It’s happening all over the USA: prison inmates receive training to, in turn, train dogs from animal shelters. The prisoners learn a joy, a compassion and a responsibility that can come only from raising and training a dog, as well as skills that can help them find a job. The dog becomes adoptable. Some lucky family gets to adopt a well-trained dog that, just a few weeks before, would have been put to death merely for being unwanted. OR, the dog is trained especially for security jobs (drug sniffing, bomb sniffing at airports, etc.). The shelter reduces the numbers of dogs killed every year in the USA (which totals in the MILLIONS).
Most attribute the original idea to a model for prison pet partnership programs envisioned in 1981 by Sister Pauline Quinn, who introduced the concept of inmates training unwanted dogs for those persons with disabilities. The program was initiated in the Washington prison for women.
Here is a quote from an inmate and a nurse at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City, Kentucky, which either runs, or used to run, this type of program (I can’t find any recent reference to it online):
“She likes to play now. She didn’t want to play. She really didn’t want to be petted when she first got here, like she’d been abused. Now everyone that passes her she thinks is supposed to pet her,” says inmate Robert Smith, Dixie’s handler. “She’s helped me a lot because she helped me find the man that I was before I came to prison and I like the person that I found.”A nurse at the prison says the atmosphere at the prison has changed since the program started. “They’re more friendly toward each other. We haven’t had as many fights. You can see the changes in the inmates themselves, being responsible for somebody else has given them a purpose,” says Ina Benge.