Inmates Help ‘Unadoptable’ Dogs Learn To Love Again

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A program in Yaphank, New York matches ‘unadoptable’ dogs with prison inmates, giving the dogs an opportunity to be trained for adoption and the inmates an opportunity to give back to their community.

I’m not going to lie. I love stories like this. In a world where it seems it’s harder and harder to find people willing to care for one another, a New York Detention center shows we all have something to give.

Prisoners are more and more being utilized in programs that train dogs for various service positions, which aids both the dog and the inmate in the process. Many say it brings compassion and humanity into an environment often void of both, and gives dogs training they may not be able to have otherwise.

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A new program at the Suffolk County correctional facility in Yaphank, New York is helping to train dogs who have had a hard time being adopted and prepare them to find their forever families.

The Handcuffs to Healing program matches an inmate with a stray dog for six weeks, in which they will work on obedience and social training. The dogs selected are all known to be difficult to adopt, many due to stereotypical concerns about breeds such as Pit Bulls or Rottweiler, and the program will allow the strays positive interaction with humans.

Michael Gould is the program director as well as the founder of Hounds Town USA and Hounds Town Charities. He was a canine officer for many years, and he hopes that eventually that interaction and compassion will help make the dogs more adoptable, but at the same time, will help inmates learn skills that may make them more marketable as employees once they leave the facility. All of the inmates who train are considered low-risk offenders.

Gould says that he believes the program will be a journey of transformation for the hearts ob the dogs and the inmates, and will be beautiful to watch.

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One inmate, Joe Dima, says that being part of this program makes him feel great, as he is missing his own dog at his home. He will be released by Thanksgiving this year, and he hopes the work he is doing with his canine partner will allow him to find a furever home by Thanksgiving as well.

The dogs are mostly pit bulls or mixes, and come from the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter.

I love when humanity puts its best paw forward!

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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