Puppies For Parole: Rescue Dogs Help Rehabilitate Convicts

Every day here at The Dogington Post I read stories of the amazing results of the human-dog interaction. And now, inmates in the Missouri Department of Corrections jail system are getting some first-hand experience in the rehabilitative powers of our canine companions. The Puppies For Parole program takes in dogs from local animal shelters and uses these rescue dogs to help rehabilitate convicts. In exchange for their round-the-clock care of the dogs, inmates earn an opportunity for early release.

This article from The Daily Mail details the program and how meaningful it has been for both the dogs and the inmates.

Puppies For Parole: Rescue Dogs Help Rehabilitate Convicts

It may sound barking mad but hardened criminals are discovering what softies they are by caring for pooches 24 hours a day.

Forget the usual prison image of chain gangs and razor wire, tough U.S. jailbirds are each being handed a helpless pup to care for in their cells night and day. In two years, 468 rescue dogs have been placed with families after being trained by inmates in the Missouri Department of Corrections’  ‘Puppies for Parole’ program. They teach the dogs, which come from local animal shelters, how to behave and prepare them for adoption – helping their own chances of being released.

George Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, has put the animals in 15 of the 20 prisons he oversees. He said: ‘It’s really a win-win-win situation. The dogs teach offenders responsibility and compassion, and improve the culture and atmosphere of the facility.

‘They lessen the tensions and as a result improve the safety and security of the prison.’

‘We’ve had dogs that have been wild strays, others that have been very sickly,’ said Mr Lombardi. ‘Some are so scared of people they have to be carried in to the facility and some are so underweight they must be treated very carefully.’ The dogs sleep in a crate in the prisoners’ cell, and they are responsible for the daily routine – including exercise, off-leash time, potty breaks and feeding.

Although the dog has a direct trainer, the whole prison dormitory becomes responsible for the care. Since the program began the waiting lists have grown long, with many inmates wanting to become involved.

Mr Lombardi explained how both the dog and the prisoner benefit from the relationship. He said: ‘An offender left who had worked as a dog trainer, and we asked him how he felt about the experience. ‘He said that when he looked into his dog’s eyes he saw and understood that the dog needed him to feed, bath and walk him.

‘Seeing that made him a much more responsible – and much better person than when he arrived at the prison.

‘He left the programme prepared to be responsible for someone other than himself.’

Read the full text here. Tell us what you think of rescue dogs helping to rehabilitate convicts in a comment below!

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