Joan Dalton has worked with troubled teens for more than 20 years. She founded
Project POOCH in 1993 while she was vice principal of William P. Lord High School at MacLaren
Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Oregon. An animal lover herself since childhood, she
recognized the rehabilitative importance of the human/animal bond and the transformative power
of the unconditional love dogs offer for juvenile offenders.
Starting with one dog and one youth, Joan built a program where youths learn to manage their own
behavior as they learn to manage the behavior of their dogs. The participants also earn school
credit, develop good work habits, and acquire valuable occupational skills while working with dogs.
The program proved so successful and popular that Joan left teaching and has committed herself
full-time to the development and continuation of the program.
Project POOCH has been featured in articles for local, national, and international newspapers and
magazines. Joan receives frequent invitations to speak about animals and youth corrections
to groups and at conferences across the country and abroad, and was interviewed about the
success of the program for a book published in Japan. The television program "Animal Planet"
on the Discovery cable network featured Project POOCH on its "Cell Dogs" program.
Joan received her B.A. in Education from Washington State University and her M.S.T. from Portland State
University. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with several cats and her Project POOCH dog, Rufus.