When I was a little girl I toured a local animal shelter. The staff there assured me that 90% of adoptable animals successfully found homes. That impressed me then, but as I got older and worked in the veterinary field I came to realize that the key word in that figure was “adoptable”. So when someone surrenders their dog to the pound because they just don’t have time for it, they are told that their dog has a 90% chance of getting adopted, which is a great statistic, but what they don’t consider is that if their dog huddles, sits scared in the corner, or nervously lifts his lip at a stranger staring at him through the bars of his cage, he is no longer considered “adoptable” and his chances of leaving out the back door in a dumpster significantly increase.
When I first heard of a program where inmates at prisons were given puppies to raise as guide dogs for the blind, I thought it was an amazing idea. However, there are other prison programs that aren’t just working with pure bred puppies with perfect pedigrees, but with unadoptable pound puppies that are often just hours away from being euthanized. Instead of killing off dogs that are high energy with bad manners due to neglect or abuse, they are sending them to prisons where the inmates are able to socialize and train these dogs 24 hours a day 7 days a week and rehabilitate them into the perfect family pet. These well-behaved dogs are then adopted out to loving families who didn’t have the time to rehabilitate the dogs themselves.
In the United States alone, there are about 3500 animal shelters in operation. Every year around six to eight million dogs and cats enter these animal shelters across the country. An estimated 3 to 4 million of these animals are euthanized at these shelters each year, which is roughly 50% of all animals that enter the shelter.
The reason for this high kill rate is simply due to lack of room in the shelters. Some breeds never even make it into a kennel to be put on display for possible adoption; they are simply euthanized without even being given a chance.
There are over two million inmates incarcerated within the United States and many more at minimum security facilities. Luckily, for both canine and prisoner alike, there are programs which take dogs in danger of euthanasia and pair them with an inmate for rehabilitation.
A New Leash On Life is one of these programs that work with prisons to rehabilitate pound puppies on death row. They provide training to the inmates which teaches them how to care for the dogs, teach basic obedience, and socializes the dogs which then allows them to be adopted out to grateful families.
Inmates are perfect candidates for training these unadoptable dogs because they are able to be with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are completely responsible for 100% of their dog’s care which includes: feeding, training, grooming and house-breaking.
The inmates benefit from this program as much as their canine companions do. The relationship forged between inmate and dog creates empathy, compassion, and love. It also allows them to gain a sense of responsibility and purpose so they can enter society as productive citizens once paroled.
Not only does New Leash On Life provide necessary values in the inmates but it also gives the inmates the opportunity to develop useful skills which can be used in the outside world.
There are workshops that the inmates attend which teaches them life skills and job readiness. Many inmates have the opportunity to get paid internships in the animal care field when they are paroled.
So not only are at risk shelter dogs rehabilitated into dogs ready to join forever homes, but the inmates who are often in and out of prison, are able to gain skills that they can apply to future employment.
New Leash On Life USA truly believes and stand behinds their belief that everyone deserves a second chance, both pound puppy and prison inmate.
The inmates do such a great job rehabilitating these unadoptable dogs, that there is a list of potential families waiting to adopt the dogs that graduate the program, which takes a couple of months to complete.
The prison program is doing so well placing dogs in adoptive homes, and these dogs are so well-behaved due to their training, that New Leash On Life USA has a new program where they specifically place these dogs with those who suffer from emotional and psychological conditions.
Several of the dogs have done amazing things when adopted. They have helped their new owners cope with conditions such as Autism, stroke victims, and those suffering from depression. The new program specifically places these prison puppies with veterans and their families who are suffering from PTSD. The dogs are prepared to support these veterans with their emotional and psychological effects due to PTSD. So not only does the program save the dog and their inmate, but it also helps to save our veterans too!
Watch The Video Below To See How This Program Works
This is such a wonderful program! I wish every prison participated in saving shelter dogs. I almost wish my own dog could be sent to prison so he could improve his manners! If only I had time to donate 100% of my time to his training. He would be the best dog ever! I often heard that people don’t adopt from the pound because the dogs that wind up there is someone else’s cast off “problem dog”. My hope after seeing this post is that people with similar beliefs can see that every dog can become the ideal companion if they are willing to give these shelter dogs the opportunity, training, and love they need to prove they can be the perfect pet!