Second Chances for Jailbirds and Jail Dogs

New hope for shelter dogs in prison program
New hope for shelter dogs in prison program

Innovative prison program teaches dogs and men

At Wakulla Correctional Institute in Florida, an inmate reaches into his pocket and finds a dog biscuit for Pooh, a Husky-Labrador Retriever-Chow mix. Pooh gobbles the treat too enthusiastically and the inmate pushes him gently and firmly to the floor to calm him. Settled down, Pooh licks his hand.

Not too long ago, things looked bleak for Pooh. He was big and unruly and no one wanted to adopt him. Then Pooh got lucky and became part of a new program, Paws in Prison. Working with “dog whisperer” Jay King, inmates are taught how to train a dog, giving them useful skills and providing pound pooches a second chance.

The dogs move in with the inmates for two months, sleeping in kennels pushed right up against the bunks. King teaches them that it isn’t rocket science to train a dog–to teach them stability you have to be stable. He teaches them to train with kindness and treats, never harshness or punishment.

The end goal is to give the prisoners valuable skills that they can use outside prison (some dream of one day opening their own dog training schools), and to rehabilitate otherwise un-adoptable dogs to help them find forever homes.

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