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Pawsitive Kidnections connects kids and canines 

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click to enlarge This young organization is already building bridges between foster kids and dogs. - COURTESY OF PAWSITIVE KIDNECTIONS
  • Courtesy of Pawsitive Kidnections
  • This young organization is already building bridges between foster kids and dogs.

A dog’s friendship can change lives, and that’s just what Pawsitive Kidnections founder Michael Sagaert hopes it will do for foster kids in the Pikes Peak region. A newcomer on the nonprofit scene, Pawsitive Kidnections has been hard at work building a strong foundation to support its mission: Creating love and joy between underprivileged children and underserved animals.

Sagaert first got the inspiration for his organization in November 2017 while attending an event hosted by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA, also a Give! nonprofit). After years of serving as a CASA volunteer, he felt compelled to create a way to help kids in need and dogs in need at the same time.

“I thought it would be really cool to connect kids in CASA with dogs from shelters or rescues,” says Sagaert.

Asked why he believes dogs are helpful for supporting kids in foster care, Sagaert, who studied animal behavior during his undergrad, notes that the human-canine bond goes back thousands of years. Over time, it has evolved into a symbiotic relationship of trust and companionship that Sagaert believes is incredibly helpful for kids in particular.
“The research on animal-assisted intervention shows that it is so beneficial,” says Sagaert. “Dogs really are able to detect emotion. It’s amazing how connected they are.”

One way the organization hopes to facilitate such connections is through the Buddy Program. It’s still in the early phases of implementation, but the long-term goal is to help families with foster children also foster dogs from one of the organization’s partner rescue programs. Should the family choose to adopt the dog, Pawsitive Kidnections will help defray the cost of adoption fees and the first year of care. Most importantly, the Buddy Program will facilitate training for both the dog and its new family to ensure a smooth transition. Sagaert hopes to get that program off the ground sometime in the middle of next year.

In the meantime, Pawsitive Kidnections has provided therapy dog encounters at a local children’s camp and during a community hike. As the organization grows, Sagaert expects those encounters to increase, including in-home, one-on-one time between the therapy dogs and foster kids to help them cope successfully with the difficulties they might be facing in their lives.

“I would love to grow until we can achieve a size where therapy dog teams can be out meeting with kids weekly,” says Sagaert.

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