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Tag: prisons

Prisoners welcome canine wildfire evacuees

sandfire

Nearly 50 deaf dogs evacuated from a shelter threatened by a raging wildfire north of Los Angeles have gotten a warm welcome at a state prison.

The owners of Deaf Dog Rescue of America decided to evacuate the animals from their Santa Clarita kennel Sunday night as the Sand fire started moving closer to the property.

“We knew if we had an issue in the middle of the night, we would be here alone with 45 dogs to load up,” Lisa Tipton posted on the rescue’s Facebook page.

Deaf Dog Rescue takes in deaf dogs from across the country, trains them and places them in new homes. It also provides assistance to new deaf dog owners who need training advice.

The rescue was debating where it might take the dogs when the state prison in Lancaster — where Lisa’s husband, Mark, operates a dog training program called Karma Rescue — offered all 50 of them shelter.

“We arrived to find the man-cages ready for the dogs,” Lisa Tipton said, with “food, water, beds, and igloos.”

The hospitality didn’t end there, NBC 4 in Los Angeles reported.

sandfire2When the couple returned to the prison Monday morning to feed the dogs, they found all that had been taken care of.

“The inmates had handled breakfast beautifully. They were getting the dogs out for exercise and cleaning their runs…

“I have never, ever seen anyone clean up dog poop with such glee.”

Even the dogs that aren’t always comfortable around strangers were coping well, Lisa Tipton added.

“To see incarcerated men of all races working so beautifully together to help others is a really amazing experience,” she said. “If they had turned us away, with 97 degree [heat], we would’ve had dead dogs in the trailer.”

She said the dogs will probably remain in the prison through the end of the week as efforts to contain the fire continue.

(Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Inmates + dogs = a second chance times 2

A new documentary takes an inside look at the kind of “win-win-win” program I think should exist in every state, if not every prison.

“Dogs on the Inside” follows the relationships between abused stray dogs and inmates at a Massachusetts prison who are training and caring for them, getting them prepared to be put up for adoption.

dogsoninsideUnder a program called “Don’t Throw Us Away,” shelter and rescued dogs from the southeastern U.S. are sent to the North Central Correctional Institution at Gardner, where a group of inmate trainers work to regain their trust and, in the process, get some lessons in resilience and empathy.

The program benefits dogs and inmates. The third winner? Society — the one to which those inmates eventually are returning.

It’s similar to programs in other states we’ve written about before, including Philadelphia’s New Leash on Life, and, in North Carolina, a program with the same name, operated by the Forsyth County Humane Society.

insideGiven we’re a country with more two million inmates incarcerated, given six to eight million dogs and cats enter shelters each year, and given most of both spend that time unloved and idle, getting them together — given the benefits that can follow — makes good sense

Dogs on the Inside” follows the relationships between neglected and abused stray dogs and prison inmates in Gardner, Mass., as they “work together for a second chance at a better life: a forever home for the dogs and a positive life outside prison for the inmates.”

“Connected by their troubled pasts, the dogs learn to have faith in people again while the inmates are reminded of their own humanity and capacity for love and empathy,” the filmmakers say.

Directed by Brean Cunningham and Douglas Seirup, the film shows “the timeless connection between man and dog, showing the resiliency of a dogs’ trust and the generosity of the human spirit in the unlikeliest of places … In the seemingly dark recesses of a prison, a spark of light emerges that is a reminder of the wonderful and timeless connection that exists between dog and man.”

(Photos: Courtesy of “Dogs on the Inside”)

Clearing the name of Pep the prison dog

pepFolklore has it that Pep, a black Lab that belonged to a Pennsylvania governor, was sent to Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1920s to serve a life sentence for killing the governor’s wife’s cat.

Folklore, as is often the case, has it wrong.

Pep apparently was guilty of nothing more than chewing up sofa cushions, and, once it was decided he lacked the proper decorum to live at the governor’s mansion, he was sent to the prison in Philadelphia by Gov. Gifford Pinchot.

That was done not so much as punishment, but to provide him a home and see if he could aid in the rehabilitation of inmates, according to the governor’s papers.

Apparently a newspaper reporter came up with the tall tale of the dog sentenced to prison for cat murder, and a mugshot taken of Pep at the prison supplied some credence to the story.

Despite attempts to set the record straight, the myth lingers to this day.

According to EasternState.org, a non-profit group that now runs a haunted house at the abandoned prison, Pep “The Cat-Murdering Dog” was admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary on August 12, 1924.

“Prison folklore tells us that Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot used his executive powers to sentence Pep to life without parole for killing his wife’s cherished cat,” the website says, adding that prison records, including Pep being assigned his own inmate number (C-2559), support the story.

It notes that the governor had a different version of what happened — namely that he sent Pep to Eastern to act as a mascot for the prisoners. The governor, it says, was a friend of the warden, Herbert “Hard-Boiled” Smith.

A more thorough account of how Pep landed in prison can be found on the website Suite101.com.

Pep, that story explains, was a gift to Gov. Pinchot during his first gubernatorial term (1923–1927), from the nephew of his wife, Cornelia Bryce Pinchot. The nephew bred Labrador retrievers. But the gift turned out to be a destructive one. Pep developed a habit of chewing on the cushions of the front porch sofa.

“… Pinchot decided that Pep had to go, but for the sake of family harmony he did not want to end the dog’s life,” the Suite101 account says. “Fortunately, an official trip gave him the idea for a convenient way of getting the dog out of his home. On a visit to Maine, Pinchot had seen dogs that were used as therapy to help inmates. So when the governor got back to Pennsylvania he decided to give the troublesome Pep to Eastern State Penitentiary as a pet.”

At the time, some inmates kept pigeons and mice as pets, but not dogs. The only dogs at the prison were guard dogs, there to ensure prisoners stayed inside and in line.

But the inmates quickly developed a fondness for Pep, and apparently vice versa. Pep lived among the inmates at Eastern State for about a decade until he was transferred to newly constructed state prison called Graterford.

Two years after he was sent to Eastern, in 1926, Cornelia Bryce-Pinchot issued a statement to the New York Times in an attempt to clear Pep’s name.

Governor Pinchot’s son also maintained that there was no murder involved.

“A newspaper reporter with a sense of humor and disregard for the truth wrote that Pep had been sentenced to prison for life for killing Mrs. Pinchot’s favorite cat,” the Suite 101 article says.

The son said his father got “absolutely thousands of letters” about Pep and this sentence, according to papers at Grey Towers National Historic Site, Governor Pinchot’s home in Milford. The made-up account, along with the mugshot, was frequently reprinted in tabloids at the time.

As some have noted, Pep — innocent as he might have been — looks pretty guilty in the mugshot.

But then again, don’t we all?

(Image: Artist rendering of Pep, based on an archival photo / Easternstate.org)

To the Rescue: Found Dogs with a Mission

rescue_dogs_7

 
Rescued dogs — and the courageous work many of them go on to do — are the theme of “To the Rescue: Found Dogs with a Mission,” a new book written by  animal adoption activist Elise Lufkin.

Lufkin, who also wrote “Found Dogs: Tales of Strays Who Landed on Their Feet ” and “Second Chances” has put together a series of stories about rescued dogs who have gone on to visit hospitals, prisons and nursing homes, guide the blind and deaf, and detect narcotics and bombs.

While her previous books look at how dog owners have been rewarded by the dogs they rescue, this one focuses on owners of rescued dogs who have trained and certified their dogs for special work that has an impact on the lives of many more humans.

Lufkin, as with her two previous books, is donating all profits to shelters and other animal-related organizations.

The poignant photographs in the book are the work of Diana Walker, a contract photographer for Time magazine since 1979.

The dog in the photo above is Marlee, who has a partially amputated right foreleg and was discovered by a group of veterinary students at a local pound.

Veterinarian Karen Lanz explains in the book what happened next:

“…If left at the shelter, the dog would surely have been euthanized … Marlee’s sweet, gentle nature made me realize immediately that she would make a wonderful therapy dog. After a little fine-tuning at local obedience classes, we were ready … Soon my brother-in-law, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, suggested that Marlee’s status as an amputee could make her a welcome addition to the therapy dogs visiting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“I contacted People Animals Love (PAL) and was fortunate enough to join their groups on visits to Walter Reed. Marlee was well received at the hospital, and I think she was a source of inspiration for some of the brave veterans who are returning from the Iraq war with missing limbs and other disabilities. Guys in wheelchairs marked “Purple Heart Combat Wounded” would say to this little dog, ‘I know what you’re going through’ … I will always be grateful to the students who saw potential in a badly injured dog and rescued her. Marlee has been a joy every day.”

The book is full of similar stories, and even more can be found on the book’s website.

(Learn more about the latest dog books at ohmidog’s book page, Good Dog Reads.)

Lufkin will hold a book signing Thursday, Nov. 12 at Halcyon House Antiques, 11219 Greenspring Ave. in Lutherville,  from 5-7 pm. Admission is $50 and includes a copy of the book. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Maryland SPCA. For more information, contact Halycon House or the Maryland SPCA.

Pen pals: Inmates team with unwanted dogs

prison-programInmates at the Arizona State Prison in Kingman are being teamed up with dogs in hopes of changing lives — both human and canine.

The prison collaborated with Mohave Companion Animal Rescue Efforts Network almost a year ago to partner inmates with unwanted dogs that have been rescued by local organizations, some of them just before they are scheduled to be euthanized.

Its the second go-round for a program of this type at the prison; an earlier one was shut down, according to Kingman Daily Miner.

Ten inmates are chosen for the six-week program, in which the inmates train the dogs in basic commands, thereby making them more adoptable.

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s more excited, the inmates or the dogs,” said Warden Darla Elliot.

Each dog is paired with two inmates, who feed, walk, clean up after and train them for about six weeks. The only time the dogs and the inmates are separated is when the inmates go to eat or if an inmate has to go to the infirmary.

“Each new dog is a new challenge,”  said Randy Barrow, who has worked with four or five dogs since entering the program. “It  teaches a great deal of respect. It changes your behavior. You can’t be harsh with a dog. You can’t yell at them or they’ll start to absorb those traits. And those aren’t traits that people want in dogs.

“If you want to train a dog with problems you have to humble yourself,” he said. “You have to learn patience.”

Barrow said he plans to become a dog trainer when he is released and returns to his home near Phoenix.

(Photo: Inmates Ernest Zarza, Rod Knagge, Randy Barrow and Theo Randall talk about the Friends of the Pen program and their new dogs; courtesy Arizona State Prison)