conley6.gif (2529 bytes)


Good dog

Photos by Dan Bishop

February 2013

"We’re trying to save dogs, and we adopt 91 percent of the dogs in the Mod Squad program," says Dr. Claudeen McAuliffe.

In less than four years, Dr. Claudeen McAuliffe has assisted in saving 637 dogs from the inevitable, thanks in part to the Mod Squad program she helped create at the Humane Animal Welfare Society in Waukesha.

The volunteer-based program is gaining visibility across the nation and providing new hope for dogs looking for a loving home, but who have behavioral problems.

The unique group of volunteers that make up the Mod Squad are specifically trained to work with the special-needs animals housed at the facility. The program is part of HAWS’ Behavior Department, which was funded by a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation in December 2009.

"The program is designed to help dogs that don’t pass the behavior evaluation, but we feel could pass the evaluation," McAuliffe says.

McAuliffe, who has a Ph.D. in nutrition and is a certified Tellington TTouch practitioner, discovered a way to use the Tellington TTouch method to help the shelter’s dogs. "It looks a little like massage, and helps calm and reassure the animals," McAuliffe says. "It’s a form of body work and is the first step to get them to learn the behaviors."

The Mod Squad uses 18 different training protocols — such as touch and treat handling, treat retreat, resource guarding, and drop and leave it — to work with rehabilitating the dogs.

"We don’t do all 18 with every dog. We usually pick four or five (protocols) the dog needs to improve on," McAuliffe says. "We’re trying to save dogs; we adopt 91 percent of the dogs in the Mod Squad program."

Cane, a lab mix, came to HAWS after an unsuccessful first adoption. "He developed aggression toward other dogs that we discovered was fear based," McAuliffe says. He was at the shelter for seven months the second time. "That can be crushing for any dog, and for an older dog that can almost be a death sentence. Mod Squad kept this dog going and reasonably happy for a period of time."

Cane was recently adopted again, but this time a trainer from the Mod Squad went to the home and worked with the family on how to take care of their new pet. "In the past, behavior evaluations at shelters in general were used to ‘cull the herd’ and choose what dogs were cream of the crop and could go on the adoption floor. The rest would be euthanized or refused," says HAWS Executive Director Lynn Olenik. "This program gives us hope."

"We have created a turn-key program that any shelter can start," McAuliffe says.

And that’s a fact: HAWS just received an $11,000 grant from the Pedigree Foundation to take the program to six other shelters in the Midwest. The Oshkosh Humane Society and Iowa County Humane Society have already signed up. "Every animal deserves a home where they are cherished," says Olenik, who added that HAWS does not charge an intake fee for animals. "We ask for a donation. We don’t want that intake fee to be a barrier and turn that animal loose or give it to just anybody," she says.

How to help

You can aid HAWS in its mission to rehabilitate animals by sponsoring a dog that’s in the Mod Squad program. Call (262) 542-8851 or go to for details.



This story ran in the February 2013 issue of: