The Redemption Project

A journey of mental and physical recovery for both man and dog, a mutual discovery and a new chance at life.

Photo of Roberta Vitadacani
0 1

Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Sara d'Angelo

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Italy

Headquarters location: city

Arese, province of Milan

Where are you making a difference?

Nationwide influence through projects , festivals and initiatives. All of Italy

Website or social media url(s)

Date Started


Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €50k - €100k

Organisation Type

  • nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Sara, the founder, was an 18 year old with a big dream. She started her journey by volunteering in shelters where there was still a kill policy for dangerous dogs. In 1991 in Italy changed its laws and for the first time it became illegal to put dogs down, this meant that there was a need for structures that would be able to welcome the less fortunate dogs and those that were considered aggressive and a danger to the outside world. Sara and her partners Francesca and Monque at this point opened Vitadacani: a shelter that could rehome those dogs in desperate need for a second chance. The rest is history, Vitadacani now welcomes more than 300 dogs plus 200 farm animals saved from the meat industry.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Our focus is to work for those dogs that do not fall into a certain category or behaviour. These dogs have a past of aggression and violence and like people, are estranged from society and in most cases euthanised. We are trying to make the gap between society and outcasts smaller, working on dogs that can in turn help people too.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

1.We plan on a structural requalification of some of the kennels in one of our centers, Magnago, where most of the more difficult dogs live. This entails them having direct access to a green area where they can freely roam and pose no harm to themselves and others. We also plan in separating the night area with insulated sliding doors for the colder months. 2.We plan on implementing the existing behavioral rehabilitation program through a more consistent and more intensified approach. We will increase hours spent on working with these dogs and in turn form our employees and volunteers to be able to have as many people as possible on board with the rehabilitation. 3.From here, we would like to organise structured courses for other centers, workers etc in order to be able to increase the number of places where this type of rehabilitation can be possible. 4. Organise a parallel seminars and workshops with convicts who need to do social services. This will be serve as a mutual benefit for the dogs and humans. Learning that we all deserve a second chance and that working together can really make us flourish as individuals

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

In Italy we are the first and only structure that deals with this category of dogs. that arrive from abandonment, sequestrations. This sort of help and assistance to these dogs is currently unsustainable and has not enough resources at a national level. Rehabilitation of these particular dogs in itself is innovative.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

As we know, dogs and all animals have incredible power and are our best friends. If we can bring together people and dogs that have been marginalized from society, they can learn to trust again, and learn from each other. This will make the world a better place by helping dogs get rehomed and convicts back into society with a new lease in life.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

This is a new project which we are working on currently but we have already seen an increase in requests for us to take more problematic dogs on and also have been able to have some of these adopted and now living a normal life in a loving home. Something that would have been impossible without the right amount of time and attention and work.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our main aim is, after having established a successful program that works, to create a standard, an example to go by. Starting from our reality, we want to create a network of shelters with similar possibilities and work together to help as many problematic dogs as possible. This way, we will be able to support each other at a national level.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

Some of the dogs that arrive to us do still have a loving family that desperately want to be able to take them back home. By helping them with the correct professional help, we can guarantee to rehabilitate these dogs and help them live a normal life. The other option currently is to have them put down, and we all know what a difficult and heartbreaking decision that is. So this "service" that we want to offer gives a lot back to the community that has also supported us and helped. With this, we could really expand the learning also to families, who would learn new competencies. The behavioral aspect and rehabilitation are fundamental for the dogs but also for those who have adopted or will want to adopt.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We plan to use various sources of funding for the realization of the project. We will carry out a 'special fundraising expressly dedicated to the project, (at this time already activated), we will use internal budget sources, and a donation from the Small Cooperative Society Vitadacani, sponsor of the project. the contribution requested from you would allow us to fully implement the project. In the following years we believe that we can autonomously carry out the project with all its activities with our own resources. The main need for the project is the requalification of the kennels, which is the most expensive part, as explained above.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The team is composed of the following roles in this specific project (note that some figures, such as the operators and volunteers are vital for us and present in all projects) Project Leader Rehabilitations Manager Training and formation Manager Operators (workers of the shelter) Volunteers

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

Vitadacani already has a very important network in Italy established by the founder: Rete dei Santuari LIberi. This network was established so that all sanctuaries in Italy that met a certain criteria could be connected nd be able to assist each other in taking on new animals, mutual fundraiser, adoptions, help, advice and much much more. This has been an extremely important and successful project that is also putting pressure on the government to be able to be identify sanctuaries as an indipendent entity and not like a farm. Similarly, we want to have the same impact in Italy when it comes to helping problematic dogs and their rehabilitation. It's time for their redemption too.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Word-of-mouth

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Does this entry have potential to GROW & demonstrate LEADERSHIP?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 50%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. Is this entry VIABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 50%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

7. FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions or used an old model in a new way - 100%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 0%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 0%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 50%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 50%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 0%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 0%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: Your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 0%


Join the conversation: