Brody, Diamond and Ella Mae graduated yesterday, meaning they will be leaving the prison where they’ve lived for the past 10 weeks and going to homes with new families.
The three dogs were members of the 16th graduating class of A New Leash on Life, a program in which inmates give shelter dogs the training they need to be welcomed into new homes.
The inmate trainers, all of whom received certificates, also get something more out of the deal — pride, self-esteem, and a job skill, for starters. Several of them spoke about what they’d gotten out of the program during yesterday’s ceremony, noting that dog training requires, above all, patience, compassion and love.
The program at Forsyth Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison in Winston-Salem, is operated by the Forsyth Humane Society — and it’s one of 16 in prisons statewide.
Dogs from the shelter are referred to the inmates who, with help from professional trainers, straighten out any issues the canines may have, often while simultaneously straightening out their own.
Brody, Diamond and Ella Mae, all wearing bandanas and mortarboards, were each brought in front of the stage with their trainer, and later demonstrated their agility and obedience skills in front of the audience in a nearby field.
Brody, to the left, a one year old pit mix who was originally rescued from a kill shelter as a pup, departed after the ceremony with his new family, Dan and Denise Nelson and their daughter, Mari. They first came across him on the Internet, and later met him at an adoption fair before visiting him at the prison.
Diamond, a Rhodesian ridgeback-boxer mix whose energy level was more than her previous owners could handle, left with her new family, too — but not until after demonstrating her skills on the prison’s agility course.
Ella Mae was destined for a new home as well.
Humane Society officials announced the next three canine members of the program, who will arrive at the prison this week. They’ll include two energetic husky mixes, Jonah and Dude. Dude ended up in the shelter after wandering alone into a pet supply store.
Inmates in the program are guided by professional trainers, provided through the Winston-Salem Dog Training Club, who donate their time to the program. The program receives no state or federal funding, and the humane society covers all medical care, supplies and expenses.
Forsyth Correctional Center launched the program in 2009, but it has been operating at some other North Carolina state prisons since 2004.
You can find more information on the New Leash on Life program — whose slogan is “Changing men’s lives one dog at a time” — here.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a new leash on life, animals, brody, diamond, dogs, dude, ella mae, forsyth correctional center, forsyth humane society, inmates, jonah, new leash on life, north carolina, pets, prison, prisoners, program, rehabilitation, rescue, second chances, shelters, train, trainers, winston-salem, winston-salem dog training club
A state judge granted a reprieve Tuesday to a wolf dog hybrid named Chief, sparing him the death penalty, but sentencing to a lifetime of employment at Louisiana State Prison in Angola.
The judge had earlier ordered the dog destroyed for aggressive behavior.
Judge James Best of 18th Judicial District Court released Chief to the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections at the request of prison officials who want to use him to guard inmates.
Area residents testified before the judge last month that Chief frequently escaped from his owners’ property and “terrorized” them, according to The Advocate. Local law in Pointe Coupee Parish requires all dogs be confined to an owner’s property, or secured on a leash. After hearing from the witnesses, Best ordered the dog — who is part wolf, part German shepherd — to be euthanized.
Best said he was contacted by Angola Warden Burl Cain, who wanted to take Chief into custody for guard dog service at the 18,000-acre maximum security state prison.
“When we saw this dog in the paper, we thought it would be a shame to euthanize,” Deputy Warden Bruce Dodd said.
The state prison has developed a program in which wolf hybrids are deployed at night within perimeter fencing encircling the prison’s individual camps.
The program has helped the prison make do with fewer guards, many of whom have been released due to budget cuts.
The prison also breeds wolf hybrids for the program, Dodd said. More than a dozen are already on duty.
“We don’t want them to be vicious killers, but to be aggressive,” Dodd said. “They become a security measure.”
Chief’s previous owner, Vicky Smith, said she doubts the dog, who she purchased as a 5-week-old puppy for her son, would thrive in his new surroundings.
“He’s not going to do well without us. We’re his family,” she said. “I think he’s going to be really, really stressed. We keep him inside our air-conditioned home. I feed him oatmeal for breakfast. You think they’re going to feed him that?”
Despite witness testimony, Smith said, Chief is harmless and has never “bit or hurt anyone.”
“It’s not right what they’re doing. I was going to sell my house and move out of the parish to keep my dog. I want my dog back, but once he goes to Angola I don’t think I’ll get him.”
Parish officials said Chief was to be taken to Angola Wednesday.
“I’m just glad for the dog,” Judge Best said. “It’s a beautiful ending and the community got some relief. The dog is going to provide good service and be well taken care of.”
(Photo by Travis Spradling / The Advocate)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressive, angola, animals, behavior, bruce dodd, budget, burl cain, chief, corrections, cutbacks, deputy warden, dogs, fence, german shepherd, guard, hybrid, james best, judge, louisiana, maximum security, mix, owner, penitentiary, perimeter, pets, pointe coupee parish, prison, prisoners, state, vicky smith, warden, wolf dog, wolf hybrid
The Decatur Correctional Center in Illinois is looking for a dog groomer, willing to work behind bars.
The center runs a dog-grooming training program, and Kim Schwalbach, the woman who has led it since 2002 is stepping down, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The program is known as CLIP, which stands for Correctional Ladies Improving Pets.
Thirty-six year-old Katrina Williamson went through the program and says it changed her life. She landed a job grooming dogs right out of prison. Prison official Mike Dooley says few of the women who have worked with Schwalbach have returned to prison.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 15th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, clip, correctional, decatur, dog, dogs, groomer, grooming, help, illinois, improving, job, ladies, pets, prison, prisoners, program, rehabilitation, training, wanted, women
How a golden retriever named Tuesday is helping an Iraq war veteran with severe post-traumatic stress was the subject of an excellent story in yesterday’s The Wall Street Journal.
Trained to help Luis Carlos Montalvan with his unseen injuries, Tuesday is a psychiatric-service dog — or, as the article referred to it, a “Seeing Eye dog for the mind.”
Tuesday, who is with Montalvan around the clock, has been taught to recognize changes in his breathing, perspiration or scent that can indicate an imminent panic attack.
Montalvan, a retired Army captain who received a Purple Heart for wounds he suffered during an ambush in Iraq, is one of the estimated 300,000 veterans who will ultimately develop PTSD — few of whom will be able to get access to dogs like Tuesday.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” said Gloria Gilbert Stoga, president of Puppies Behind Bars Inc., a New York-based nonprofit that uses prisoners to train animals. Tuesday is one of 11 psychiatric-service dogs it has placed. It hopes to provide 14 more this year.
Tuesday was eight weeks old when he and five siblings were turned over to Puppies Behind Bars. He was sent to New York’s Fishkill Correctional Facility. The pup shared a cell with John Pucci, a convicted killer who was given responsibility for molding Tuesday into a service dog.
Pucci taught Tuesday to respond to 82 commands geared mainly toward helping the physically disabled — turning on lights with his nose, retrieving food from shelves, helping load washing machines. In doing so he won a bet with fellow inmates, who didn’t think Tuesday could be trained. “I got released before I could collect the cigarettes,” said Pucci, 64 years old, who served 29 years.
After that,Tuesday received additional training, based on Montalvan’s needs — such as reminding him to take his pills, and serving as a buffer when Montalvan gets stressed out by large crowds.
Montalvan walks with a cane as a result of his physical injuries, but he says his biggest problems are emotional. “Sometimes my mind goes jumbled,” he said. “Everything just gets kind of cloudy.”
Tuesday also accompanies Montalvan to to Columbia University, where he’s studying journalism and communication.
“Tuesday is just extraordinarily empathetic,” said Montalvan, 36. “In bad moments, he’ll lay his head on my leg, and it’ll be like he’s saying, ‘You’re OK. You’re not alone.’”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: army, assistance, dogs, golden retriever, iraq, john pucci, luis carlos montalvan, post traumatic stress disorder, prisoners, psychiatric service dog, ptsd, puppies behind bars, service dogs, train, tuesday, war
Nobody has busted out of the Idaho Correctional Center in more than 20 years, and prison officials say the credit goes to the Dirty Two Dozen — a team of snarling guard dogs that patrol the perimeter.
Their names sound friendly enough – Cookie, Bongo and Chi Chi among them — but the dogs, they say, are a mean lot, former death row inmates deemed too dangerous to be pets. Most would have been euthanized at the local pound if not for the prison duty that served as their reprieve.
The program began in 1986, when 24 dogs — German shepherds, Rottweilers and Belgian malinois, boxers and pit bulls — were placed in the space between the inner and outer chain-link fences that surround the prison.
The canines require no salary, don’t join unions and are more reliable during power outages than electrical security systems. They also seem to have a powerful deterrent effect.
“We’re basically giving them a second chance at a good, healthy life,” Corrections Officer Michael Amos, who heads the sentry dog program, told the Associated Press. ”Those same instincts that make them a bad pet make them good sentries.”
“The average offender has no problem engaging in a fight with a correctional officer — they’re used to fighting with humans. But they don’t want to mess with a 100-pound rottweiler who has an attitude and who wants to bite the snot out of them for climbing that fence,” said James Closson, a dog trainer in Boise. He arranged the donation of some overaggressive dogs to the prison when the sentry program was new.
Over the years, the dogs have bitten handlers, badly mauling a staff member who in the late 1990s entered the kennel without first making sure all the animals were caged. But no inmates locked up at the prison have been bitten, authorities said.
Interestingly, the prison also has a program in which inmates train and care for shelter dogs, designed to give the dogs a better chance of getting adopted. But those dogs, though they may have behavioral issues, aren’t as hard core as those that guard the fence.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adam golfarb, angus love, belgian malinois, boise, boxers, center, correctional, corrections, criminals, deterrence, deterrent, dogs, escapes, fence, guard, humane society, idaho, mean, pennsylvania institutional law project, perimeter, pit bulls, prison, prisoners, rottweilers, sentries, shepherds