Women Get Second Chance with Dog Treats

CLOVIS, Calif. -- Women battling addiction are finding a second chance in an unlikely place: in a kitchen, baking dog treats.

"Our mission is to provide disadvantaged women that have gone through addictions, human trafficking and domestic violence with a work skill program and training that will lead them and equip them to find employment," said Sandra Kaye with the St. Francis Homeless Project.

Dogs Dig Em' All-Natural Dog Treats are made from scratch in the kitchen of the Clovis Institute of Technology. Kaye runs the program and has overseen 173 women coming through the program.

"Of that, 72% have succeeded to go on to getting their children back, going back to school, working, buying houses, bringing families back together," she said.

The treats are in more than 100 stores in the Central Valley, and they're close to striking a deal with a major grocery store chain. The women are paid for their work, and the money made off of selling the treats goes back to fighting homelessness through the St. Francis Homeless Project.

"Our dog treats are handmade with love from the women in our program. They're all-natural, they're all laboratory tested, the product itself is a proven treat for dogs," Kaye said.

"In fact, we have people complain that they won't eat their own treats, that they have to buy these treats," she said with a laugh.

The women meet every Friday to bake, making between 8,000 and 10,000 treats per session. Many of the women talked about how their lives had improved since joining.

"I spent a long stint in prison, I did 23 years. I was blessed to get a date to get out and I was blessed again with this program," said Julie Moore.

"It's awesome that I have a second chance. And I'm putting everything that I can into it." She has since started her own business, Tiny's Dog and Pet Services.

Malissa Schartoff also started her own basket-making business since joining the program, and Jessica Ramirez got her high school diploma.

"It's pushed me to do more with my life, and we're helping the community and they're helping us," Ramirez said.

"I have been in recovery for almost 12 years," Schartoff said. "This program has helped a lot of women that thought we never had a chance in life."

The program is partially funded by donations and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. They're also planning on introducing a van that drives around to deliver dog treats in Valley neighborhoods.

The St. Francis Homeless Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. If you'd like to inquire about volunteering or donating, send them a message on their Facebook here.