This was posted on Monday, April 10, 2017 by Rodney Ho on the AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Former Atlantan Kristen Collins is the star of a Netflix documentary created by the ASPCA called "Second Chance Dogs" about a special behavioral therapy center in New Jersey for dogs who were victims of puppy mills and hoarding cases.
Over three-plus years, the center has successfully rehabilitated more than 300 dogs.
It has been on Netflix since November, giving the group and Collins huge exposure. They are planning to move to a new facility near Asheville, N.C. later this year that will accommodate up to 60 dogs at a time, double the amount in the current center.
Collins is thrilled to be closer to home. She also found starring in such a prominent documentary disconcerting yet rewarding.
'Usually we're not dolled up," she said. "We're covered in all kinds of hair and poop. It was really honestly a wonderful experience. It was such a great opportunity to share those dog stories and capturing the changes."
Collins said they have developed dozens of protocols and behavioral modification exercises to help dogs who have been non-socialized, neglected and/or terrorized by humans and turn them into loving, trusting pets. Many are shown in the documentary. "In the past, they were hopeless and would have to be euthanized," she said. She wanted to find ways to change that and save the dogs.
The New Jersey rehab center was an experiment and they achieved an incredible 87 percent success rate, Collins said.
"This is definitely the first of its kind," Collins aid. "We don't know of any other center like this."
They hope down the road to replicate this across the country.
Collins graduated Walton High School, then the University of Georgia, where she majored in English and drama. She then worked as a copy editor in New York City. At the time, she met a dog that changed her life and her career direction: a pitbull named Juno. She met Juno volunteering at an animal clinic. "I was besotted," she said. "It was like a piano fell on my head. She was just three weeks old. She spent 14 years with me."
As Collins entered animal behavior, Juno was there for much of that time, helping other dogs until she passed two years ago. "I still miss her every day," she said. "She had a real calming presence. She worked magic."
Taking Juno to a class with a psychologist who hooked Collins into teaching dogs. "I decided to apprentice with her," she said. She hired Collins a year later. For a time, Collins returned to Atlanta to be a personal trainer. She joined the ASPCA in 2007.