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Cell Dogs, Inc.

 P.O. Box 23148
 Santa Ana, CA 92711
[P] (714) 795-4165
[F] --
[email protected]
Janette Thomas
 Printable 1 Page Summary
 Printable Profile
Organization DBA --
Former Names Pathways to Hope (2017)
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Employer Identification Number 02-0536487 00000


Mission StatementMORE »

Cell Dogs harnesses the power of the human-animal bond and transforms lives by setting a new course for shelter dogs and incarcerated individuals. By providing second chances, we make a lasting difference in our communities.

Mission Statement

Cell Dogs harnesses the power of the human-animal bond and transforms lives by setting a new course for shelter dogs and incarcerated individuals. By providing second chances, we make a lasting difference in our communities.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year 2019
Projected Expenses $98,699.00
Projected Revenue $100,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Cell Dogs Training Programs
  • Cell Dogs Training Program - ADVANCED TRAINING - SERVICE DOGS

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Cell Dogs harnesses the power of the human-animal bond and transforms lives by setting a new course for shelter dogs and incarcerated individuals. By providing second chances, we make a lasting difference in our communities.

Background Statement

Cell Dogs, Inc. enrolls shelter dogs in 8-10 week basic obedience training programs at local correctional facilities. We transform lives by setting a new course for shelter dogs and incarcerated individuals. These second chances make a lasting difference in our communities: the people who grow through our programs are far less likely to reoffend and we have, to date, placed over 300 dogs into loving homes. Canine graduates who exhibit special aptitude are given advanced training to become working service dogs.

In detail:

Rescuing unwanted dogs reduces euthanasia rates and gives each dog a chance at a new life. Their happy adoptive families are proof positive that shelter dogs make great pets.

We rehabilitate juveniles and adults in correctional institutions by teaching responsibility and imparting crucial life and job skills. In becoming contributing members of the community, the people who grow through our programs are far less likely to reoffend. The state of California typically spends upwards of $75,000 each year to house and care for a single inmate. By heading off future incarcerations, our program saves taxpayer dollars.

Some special canine graduates become service dogs and help their human partners enjoy a fuller life. Their valuable skills benefit children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), changing the lives of entire families. They also assist individuals with mobility challenges, providing them with more independence. We also train service dogs to support veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The programs currently run in two locations: at the James A. Musick Facility in Irvine and at OC Probation – Juvenile Hall. The program at OC Probation started in 2009 and was the first in the state of California to involve juvenile ward trainers.

Impact Statement

We rescue dogs from local shelters and enroll them in basic obedience training programs. These classes take place in correctional facilities and actively involve inmate trainers. For each training cycle, we make sure all dogs are lovingly adopted.

The main indicators of our success are twofold: permanent homes for rescued shelter dogs and reduced recidivism rates for our program participants at partnering institutions.

Since its inception, Cell Dogs has successfully rescued, trained and placed over 300 dogs into new homes.

Recidivism rates for program participants show that Cell Dogs is an important factor in keeping individuals from returning to an institutionalized life. A recent research study, by the University of California Irvine/National Institute of Health, reports approximately 40% lower recidivism rates for inmates in Cell Dogs programs.

As we continue working to expand our programs to new institutions, we are launching a new program to train dogs for individuals with PTSD. Additionally, we are updating our organization's brand (including PR and online presence) to better reach the general public and our donors.

Needs Statement

Cell Dogs, Inc. is all too aware of the considerable unmet need in correctional facilities and local shelters, and we are always maximizing our abilities to serve more incarcerated youth and adults as well as shelter dogs.  Our current programs have been running with great success for many years.  At this moment, we are in the process of implementing new programs with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Orange County Probation Department while also exploring invitations from the Los Angeles Probation Department.

We recently expanded our service dog training scope to assist military veterans living with post traumatic stress disorder. Simultaneously, we have been developing a re-entry program for previous program trainers who have been released from prison and jail. Through apprenticeships with Cell Dogs, Inc., former inmates will gain valuable and practical skills for future employment.

More than 90% of our income is dedicated to essential program expenses: shelter fees, veterinary care, food, and program supplies. We are a fiscally-responsible organization operating with no waste or fluff. Instead of a brick and mortar facility for training classes, we house all our dogs-in-training at the facilities of our correctional partners. In this way, we are able to maintain very low overhead expenses. However, compensating the certified professionals running these programs is necessary.

As our organization has grown over the years, so too has the ability to spread our wings. Securing an additional $75,000 in funding would be invaluable. This would allow us to: provide this rehabilitative program to other correctional institutions, hire 3 additional dog trainers to staff and manage new initiatives, broaden our mission to serve military veterans, and give former inmates critical skills in leading productive lives within the community.

CEO Statement

Second chances can make all the difference in the world!

Positives changes happen when people and dogs are partnered. Dogs who were deemed unlovable, un-trainable, or unadoptable at local shelters are rehabilitated by at-risk youth and adult criminal offenders who made poor choices for a variety of reasons. These two populations are similar in that they both need a second chance to make positive changes in their lives.

Cell Dogs, Inc. provides that opportunity by teaching program participants to effectively communicate with each other through the power of positive reinforcement: praise, rewards and love.

These programs require full support from each institution’s management and staff. Focused commitment is also required from program participants. While our staff works to facilitate the adoption of each dog, the canines live in housing units with the program participants during the entire 8-10 week training cycle.

Our impact is far reaching in numerous ways. Dogs, some of whom had been rogues, are transformed into loving family pets. Reforming the dogs positively impacts the lives of the inmate trainers in addition to scores of other individuals residing in each designated housing unit. Families who adopt our training graduates get loving companions.

Other correctional institutions often ask us to implement programs at their locations, but we’re currently limited due to funding. We have been judicious in growing our programs and very frugal with our donations as we don’t want to overcommit our current resources.

Your thoughtful donation would make it possible for us to develop more programs, reduce recidivism rates by educating and inspiring program participants, save the lives of loving shelter dogs, and enrich the lives of adopters and special-needs clients.

Board Chair Statement


Other Ways to Donate/Volunteer

Contact us or send donations to: Cell Dogs Training Program PO Box 23148 Santa Ana, CA 92711-3148 Phone: 714-747-6782, [email protected] Other ways to give include donating tangible items (Amazon wish list: or volunteering your time or services. For more information, please contact us at [email protected] or visit:

Geographic Area Served

Central Orange County
West Orange County
South Orange County
North Orange County
Our primary service area is the United States with a focus on California. We are based in Orange County.

Organization Categories

  1. Animal Related - Animal Training
  2. Public & Societal Benefit - Public & Societal Benefit NEC
  3. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs



Cell Dogs Training Programs

Cell Dogs Training Programs

Program trainers participate in 4 weeks of lecture classes before teaming up with the shelter dogs. Over the next 8-10 weeks, they teach their canine students good manners and basic obedience. Upon successful completion, each dog is adopted into a loving home. Some dogs who exhibit special aptitude go on to advanced training in order to become working service dogs. Cell Dogs has successfully rescued, trained and placed over 300 dogs into permanent homes. Beyond reducing euthanasia rates and saving costs at local shelters, we transform program participants, providing them (and the dogs they train) a valuable second chance at leading productive and responsible lives. Dog adoption is also made easier as people looking for a shelter pup are not always equipped to handle an untrained or unsocialized animal.

Programs currently run at Orange County probation and Orange County Sheriff's Department jail facilities.
Budget  $100,000.00
Category  Animal-Related, General/Other Animal Training
Population Served Families People/Families with People of Developmental Disabilities Offenders/Ex-Offenders
Program Short-Term Success  Participating inmates are given a strong sense of purpose in addition to extra motivation to stay out of trouble while serving a sentence. The dogs' presence provides a calmer climate for inmates and staff alike. Program participants are given a second chance and the same is true for the rescued shelter dogs. The adoptive families get a trained animal, making a smoother transition for all involved.
Program Long-Term Success 

Cell Dogs has proven significantly lower recidivism rates for our program participants. For these trainers, crucial life skills are acquired and job skills have in some instances resulted in jobs and careers. We also help reduce euthanasia rates. Adopting an untrained and possibly problematic dog often leads to returning them to the shelter. Instead, our successfully-trained rescued dogs are enjoying happy and healthy lives with their new families. Program dogs continuing on to advanced training lead extremely purposeful lives. These service dogs enable their human partners to live more independently with more fulfillment.

Program Success Monitored By  Cell Dogs, Inc. periodically checks in on our canine graduates and we encourage adopters to turn to us with any issues. An ongoing 5-year research study by the University of California Irvine/National institute of Health keeps us apprised of how we're doing in terms of impacting recidivism rates. The most current data shows that recidivism for our OC Probation participants is just 16%, a significant drop compared to the 55% rate for juvenile offenders in California.
Examples of Program Success  We have rescued and found adoptive families for over 300 dogs and consider each placement a success.



During our training courses, some dogs prove to be quick studies in basic obedience. These canines, expressing an eagerness to learn more and do more, are then given advanced training to become service dogs. Our scope at Cell Dogs includes: Autism Service Dogs, PTSD Service Dogs, and Wheelchair Service Dogs. This training program typically requires an additional 6-9 months.

Budget  S7500
Category  Animal-Related, General/Other Animal Training
Population Served Families People/Families with People of Developmental Disabilities Offenders/Ex-Offenders
Program Short-Term Success  Identifying (shelter) dogs with amazing potential to help individuals living with disabilities is our first success. 15-20% of our rescued canines qualify for service work. As a result of not having a brick and mortar facility or offices for our organization (all dogs go through advanced training in the incarceration facilities and then stay with their trainer 24/7 until placement) we are able to provide at the very reasonable cost of $7,500. 
Program Long-Term Success 
Training service dogs is a long term commitment. Beginning with the selection of each canine, extensive training followed by partner placement and family training takes 1-2 years. 

In training and providing service dogs, we greatly enhance the lives of adopters with disabilities. These adopters include families of youngsters with autism spectrum disorder, military veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder, and individuals with mobility issues. Service dogs help individuals lead happier and more independent lives, enabling participation in more activities with newfound self confidence and skills. Service dogs can work as long as a decade.

Program Success Monitored By  Service dogs and their working partners are certified by Cell Dogs, Inc. when they successfully pass the Public Access Test. Teams are reassessed and re-certified every 18-24 months.
Examples of Program Success 
A few years ago, we partnered our program dog Dusty with a woman named Janet. Janet wrote us, "Dusty is compassionate and intuitive, able to sense if I am sad or upset, and is ready to jump on my lap to comfort me and offer gentle hugs and kisses. As he prances along beside my wheelchair, his presence helps me maneuver confidently in any environment. The two of us are often greeted by strangers, and I am offered the rewarding opportunity to share our story with them. I am often alone, and his companionship, eagerness to please, and just being present offers me such peace and comfort. The quality of his life and mine are both improved because we are a lovingly bonded working team. We need each other."
More recently, we partnered Skip with Sarah, a young girl with autism spectrum disorder. Sarah's mom Yuliya wrote, "We've been so lucky to have Skip in our family! Sarah treats Skip as her best friend, and he continues to be an amazing bridge for her. His heart is full of kindness and patience, and he's helped up so much in the last two years to become a stronger family. We'll forever be grateful to Cell Dogs for training him so well and bringing him to us - we just cannot imagine our lives without him."


CEO/Executive Director Janette Thomas
CEO Term Start June 2010
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience

JANETTE THOMAS (Executive Director/Certified Instructor)

After a 25-year corporate career as an engineering and executive manager in global product and market development in the microelectronics industry, Janette reinvented herself to follow her dream of working with dogs and people. Over 14 years, she has been personally responsible for implementing and running 6 shelter dog training programs at local correctional institutions. Her love of animals and community has resulted in 300+ dogs trained and lovingly adopted, including service dogs that went on to change the lives of people living with disabilities.

She has received numerous recognitions for her efforts:
• Orange County Animal Care – Volunteer Awards, 2008-2016
• OC Probation Department – “Excellence in Volunteerism” Award, 2012
• “Points of Light” Honoree by President George Bush, 2013
• Orange County Register – “Everyday Hero,” March 2014

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Helen Kim Operations Manager --


Award Awarding Organization Year
Helping Heroes Grant Petco Foundation 2019
Article - Convicts and canines get a new leash on life Los Angeles Times 2018
Helping Heroes Grant Petco Foundation 2018
Helping Heroes Grant Petco Foundation 2017
News Feature NBC/Life Connected Series 2017
Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Harvard University 2017
Documentary "Shelter Me - Second Chances" PBS 2014


Affiliation Year
-- --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


We could not do this alone. Along with our generous donors, our partners make all the difference. They energetically support our program and recognize its positive and rehabilitative effects for both human and canine participants. Our success would not be possible without their many years of devoted collaboration.

OC Animal Care

OC Animal care is an open admission animal shelter working to save the lives of unwanted pets in a variety of ways. This includes working closely with Cell Dogs and other organizations facilitating animal rescue.

OC Sheriff’s Department – James A. Musick Facility

This institution provides custodial and rehabilitative programs for over 1300 adults, low-security-risk male and female inmates. The Cell Dogs program has been running here successfully since 2013.

OC Probation

Orange County Juvenile Hall is an institution for juvenile law offenders, housing over 400 boys and girls between ages 12–18. Our partnership began in 2009.

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 150
Number of Contract Staff 6
Staff Retention Rate % 100%
Staff Professional Development Yes

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: --
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 2
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: --
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 7
Male: --
Not Specified --

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --

Risk Management Provisions

Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually

Government Licenses


CEO Comments


Foundation Comments



Board Chair Helen Kim
Board Chair Company Affiliation USC
Board Chair Term Jan 2016 - Dec 2019
Board Co-Chair Erin Quintanilla
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation The Walt Disney Co.
Board Co-Chair Term June 2017 - May 2020

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Thomas Gray -- --
Jennifer Hawkins DVM OC Aninmal Care --
Helen Kim Prof, USC Voting
Erin Qunitanilla Disney Company --
Janette Thomas -- --

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Additional Board Members and Affiliations

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 3
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 4
Male: 1
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria --
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy --
Percentage of Monetary Contributions --
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Board Orientation --

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments


Standing Committees



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $100,000.00
Projected Expenses $98,699.00
Form 990s

2018 990 Form

2017 990 Form

2016 990 Form

2015 990 Form

2014 990 Form

2013 990 Form

2012 990 Form

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Revenue $125,189 $70,199 $79,332
Total Expenses $84,115 $92,877 $45,350

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Revenue By Revenue Source
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$123,386 $68,572 $76,980
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions -- -- --
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $1,800 $1,625 $2,350
Investment Income, Net of Losses $3 $2 $2
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Expense By Type
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Program Expense $73,272 $78,877 $41,473
Administration Expense $10,843 $14,000 $3,877
Fundraising Expense -- -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.49 0.76 1.75
Program Expense/Total Expenses 87% 85% 91%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 0% 0% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Assets $191,073 $149,999 $172,677
Current Assets $191,073 $149,999 $172,677
Long-Term Liabilities -- -- --
Current Liabilities -- -- --
Total Net Assets $191,073 $149,999 $172,677

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities inf inf inf

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%
Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

CEO Comments

When we first launched programs in OC in 2009, our ability to effectively secure funding opportunities was stymied due to the recession and the “unique” nature of our programs. All non-profits involved with animal rescue missions were competing for very limited funding sources and no one appeared interested in funding programs for incarcerated individuals.


Since that time, our program captured local and national attention when PBS did a documentary about our program at OC Probation/Juvenile Hall.   Also, NIH has awarded a multi-year research grant to professors from UCI, who are renowned experts in the field of juvenile justice and child psychology and development, to validate the impact of this program on at-risk youth and quantify the reduced recidivism rate of our program participants! The documented recidivism rate for youth in Juvenile Hall is 80%.  The initial results from this study confirm an 11% rate of recidivism for our program trainers which is outstanding and something we are very proud of!

Those “credentials,” coupled with persistence, program integrity and good financial stewardship have strengthened our reputation and credibility, thus enhancing our fund development efforts.

Foundation Comments

Summary financial data is per the Form 990s and consultation with the organization. In 2011 the organization filed a 990N had minimal revenue and expenses. Foundation/corporate and individual contributions are combined under Foundation and Corporation Contributions.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.