Shelter dogs with behavioral issues, are getting a second chance at finding a family, thanks to a program that involves round-the-clock training with prison inmates.The program, Paws for Life from Karma Rescue, started last year in a California State prison. With similar programs existing all across the country, this is the first one to take place inside a high security prison. Convicts, with life sentences and good behavior are carefully chosen and are paired up with dogs in need of corrective training. The inmate then spends the next twelve weeks with their pupil pup at their side.
Dedicated Karma trainers, drive to the prison a few times a week to coach the handlers in training on how to work with the animals. At the end of the cycle the dogs get to test for “Canine Good Citizen” certifications.
Karma Rescue’s Paws for Life Program began in 2003 and has since saved over two thousand dogs from high kill shelters and placed them with loving, forever families.The program has been very successful, and everyone seems to benefit. Prisoners with life sentences get the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a dog who otherwise might meet with a death sentence. In helping the canines, they get to connect to society in a non-direct way which some describe as healing to their own souls as well. Lives redeemed, and dogs thought to be “unadoptable” find new homes.
Doctor Patricia Fitzgerald, an animal advocate, writes for the Huffington Post, that after attending a graduation ceremony, she observed a transformation in everyone involved in the program; warden, staff, inmates, dogs and volunteers. “Although the program was limited to 14 inmates, it’s clear there has been a ripple effect through the entire prison.”
This is a beautiful program and one we’d like to see in prison’s across the country.