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Nichols College Students Help Connecticut Animal Shelter Bolster Security

DUDLEY, Mass.—The Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments’ (NECCOG) animal shelter has sought the help of criminal justice management students at Nichols College to recommend ways to tighten security at the 13-year-old shelter following last summer’s break-in and theft of two Pitbull puppies.

The first dog, a 5-year-old Pitbull, was stolen last summer from the shelter, located at 125 Putnam Pike, Dayville, Conn. Through social media, shelter staff were able to find and retrieve him. The second dog, a 6-year-old Rottweiler/Pitbull mix, was stolen a few weeks later; staff members have not found her.

NECCOG Animal Services provides services 24 hours a day and seven days a week to 10 towns for stray dogs, sick and injured domestic animals, capture and restraint of livestock, quarantining of biting animals, placement of animals that owners are unable to maintain, placement of strays not redeemed, a trap/neuter release program for feral cats, and response to complaints for nuisance domestic animals. It has three full-time employees, three part-time employees, and 20 volunteers who oversee 13 animals (six cats and seven dogs, as of press time). Animals are adopted every week.

With such a busy schedule and enormous set of responsibilities, the staff needed help to improve the shelter’s security.

Enter the Nichols College students, who used their leadership and business skills to come up with real-world, impactful solutions to the shelter’s problems. Those solutions have already been implemented at the shelter and are making a difference in the safety of the cats and dogs housed there.

Criminal Justice Management Professor Kim Charbonneau's Physical Security class was invited in October 2016 to conduct a building-risk assessment of the shelter. Physical security includes a combination of security-related equipment, devices, and technology designated and arranged to alert personnel to loss-causing events or circumstances. Topics covered in the Nichols course include controlling and monitoring the access of people and vehicles, prevention and detection of unauthorized intrusions and surveillance; and safeguarding documents, proprietary information, merchandise, and buildings.

As part of the experiential learning aspect of the course, the students toured the grounds and assessed the security of the building, identifying potential areas of concern. Following the students' assessment, the class met with Animal Services Director Dianne Collette to ask questions and discuss what policies and procedures were in place at the facility.

Through their assessment, the students determined the shelter’s most immediate security-related needs, and assigned each area to a student to determine a solution. The students spent several weeks developing fire evacuation procedures, training programs for volunteers, animal health and vaccination forms, volunteer application and background check procedures, and daily logs for the facility.

Collette was invited to observe their final presentations, where students shared with her their recommendations. She then brought the assessments back to the shelter and implemented several new policies, which, in turn, is helping to increase the safety and security of the animals.

“The Nichols College students’ recommendations were very beneficial and helpful,” said Collette, who has worked for NECCOG for 12 years. “They offered excellent ideas to keep our animals safe. We plan to implement some of their recommendations, such as an employee education program and creating kitten/cat vaccine forms.”

Learning that goes beyond the textbook and classroom is an important part of the Nichols academic experience. From consulting work, such as the animal shelter project, and course-related travel, to internships, Nichols students find many hands-on learning opportunities that help them build a resume of relevance.

Said Professor Charbonneau: “Working with the NECCOG animal shelter gave my students an incredible opportunity to gain real-world experience in the area of physical security, while also giving back to the community.”


Nichols College is a college of choice for business and leadership education as a result of its distinctive career-focused and leadership-based approaches to learning, both in and out of the classroom. Founded in 1815, Nichols transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders through a dynamic, career-focused business and professional education. Nichols serves students interested primarily in a comprehensive business education that is supported by a strong liberal arts curriculum.


Lorraine U. Martinelle
Director of Public Relations and Social Media
Nichols College
Learn. Lead. Succeed.
Dudley, Mass.
Twitter: @NicholsNewsroom