The team at Canine CellMates have set up the scheme in which each prisoner is matched up with a dog awaiting adoption, with the pair keeping each other company 24/7 and the inmate training his allotted canine as part of a work scheme.
As reported by CNN, the program allows the abandoned animals time to get used to a strange new environment, while the training means they are more likely to find a family willing to adopt them in the future.
That’s great news for the animals and, on the flip side, looking after the dogs also benefits the inmates themselves, having a great calming influence on them – something any of us who have a pup ourselves can certainly vouch for – as well as other positive effects.
Susan Jacobs-Meadows, executive director of Canine CellMates, said:
"Most of these guys gave up believing that there was very much of value to them a long time ago. But when that dog loves them and trusts them that starts to change how they feel about themselves."
One of the prisoners added:
"The bond that me and Fred have – he came to a place where he was going to be put to death and I came from a place that was on the bad side. If Fred can have an opportunity to go to a good home and he can change, that makes me want to change the environment that I’m in. That means I can do better also."
This shows how dogs really can change lives and this kind of pet/prisoner scheme is also occasionally used in UK jails, especially to help young offenders. Long may it continue, we say!