Wildfire Relocates Dogs to Prison, Inmates Now Rescuers
When a wildfire threatened the lives of deaf dogs at a local rescue, they were brought to California state prison to room with inmates. “We’re pretty high up on a hill and we didn’t want to take a chance on floating embers ’cause all it takes is one to light this whole place up,” said rescue owner Lisa Tipton. 50 dogs needed an emergency home, and the prison was one of the few places that had room for the extra visitors. The decision was made for the animals to be moved for their safety and what happened next was absolutely heartwarming.
“When we came by the next morning, every single dog had a smile on their face and was enjoying themselves,” Tipton said. “Even the pretty difficult dogs I thought would get snappy were thriving.” It was an outcome that everyone had hoped for, and an absolute dream for everyone involved in these dog’s lives. The animals became a part of the Paws 4 Life program that matches inmates with a rescue dog to care for. Animal therapy like this helps people with rehabilitation and motivation.
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The dogs in the program are usually on shelter “kill lists” and set to be euthanised. The dogs are rescued by the prison, but the prisoners also benefit from the love of the dogs. Inmate David Dougall told local news that the program “gives me life again” and “gives me my spirit back.” Inmate Jon Grobman, added that “Paws 4 Life restored my faith in humanity, that I’m a person, that I matter. It gave me the opportunity to care for something, love something.”
Inmates work with volunteer dog trainers to help socialize the animals and teach them various obedience tasks. Going through the programs helps the dogs become more confident around people and more outgoing in certain situations. Once the dogs have completed their required training, they earn a prized certification of proper behaviour, which highly increases their chances of getting adopted. The program is a testament to the fact that everyone can be rehabilitated with enough love and patience, and that no one deserves to be given up on.
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So far, the program has been running for a very successful two years. Around 70 dogs have been through the prison doors and found their new families once they have graduated. The 50 dogs rescued from the wildfire will have excellent company with the overjoyed inmates who can’t wait to help the dogs with their personal growth. It is thanks to their dedication and effort that these special needs pups will have a second chance at life. It’s a perfect partnership, and hopefully, the program will spread to other prisons across the country.
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