Shelter dogs and inmates are being given a second chance at prisons across the nation, thanks to programs like Arkansas’ Paws in Prison.
The program pairs inmates with dogs rescued from kill shelters, and participating prisoners socialize the animals and teach them basic obedience skills under the guidance of professional dog trainers. Some dogs are even trained to work as service or therapy animals.
Since the program began in 2011, about 200 rescue dogs have been trained and adopted through Arkansas' program.
Not all inmates can participate in dog training though — they have to earn the privilege.
“It’s a program that encourages and rewards their good behavior,” dog trainer Carrie Kessler told The Associated Press.
Training and socializing shelter dogs doesn’t just benefit man’s best friend. Working with them also aids in prisoner rehabilitation and gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
“I’ve been looking for ways to just — even if it’s small — to give back to society in some way,” said Paws for Prison participant James Dulaney.
Paws in Prison was modeled after a similar program that’s part of the Missouri prison system. Known as Puppies for Parole, it recently adopted out its 500th dog.
“The dogs have a remarkable impact on offenders, improving offender behavior and giving offenders incentive to maintain excellent conduct records,” said George A. Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections.
To learn more about Arkansas' Paws in Prisons program, watch the video below.
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