BEMIDJI -- Pepper, Bear and Trixie are just three of the dogs currently residing at the Beltrami Humane Society, but they all have one thing in common that makes them different than the rest.
The three are currently part of the Mod Squad Training Program, "a program for behavioral modification of dogs to make them more adoptable for prospective adoptees," explained Ethan Larson, the Beltrami Humane Society Mod Squad coordinator.
The Mod Squad program was supported by a Best Friends Grant, which the Beltrami Humane Society was eligible for due to its membership in the Best Friends of Animals Society's No More Homeless Pets Network.
The Mod Squad program involves trained volunteers who work daily with dogs who have behavioral issues. The Beltrami Humane Society currently has four volunteers who have been trained for the program.
The program originally started during the late spring, and four dogs who participated in the program have since been adopted.
"We have had three adopted in the past month," Larson said.
While the trainings the dogs receive involve basic skills, most often the techniques used are specific to each dog and its needs.
Larson himself recently adopted a dog who was a graduate of the Mod Squad Program at the Beltrami Humane Society.
Shiloh, a success story and an ambassador of the program, had been at the Humane Society since April. His previous owner had abused him, causing Shiloh to be fearful of all men.
The Mod Squad volunteers began working with Shiloh close to the end of June. After two months, Shiloh started to show signs of progress.
The first time Larson saw Shiloh, he thought, "I could help this dog out even more by having him in a one-on-one situation away from the shelter, since we got along so well," he said.
Once a dog who is in the programs gets adopted, another dog from the Humane Society is able to receive the training.
"I started a waiting list," Larson said. "The dog that's on top of the waiting list gets into the Mod Squad program next."
The Mod Squad program is set up so it has room to grow in the future.
"In the next six months, we are looking to recruit more volunteers and if we get those volunteers, we will look into adding more dogs," Larson said.
Larson said the focus should be on the number of dogs served and the successful partnering of dogs with their new families.
"Once they get adopted within a certain period of time, they realize that they are in a home setting and they're not so fearful and let their walls come down, let their owners love them and calm down," he said.