Paws on Parole Program Gives Dogs and Inmates a Second Chance
It's a program popping up all over the nation and one with staying power here in North Central Florida. Paws On Parole... where shelter dogs are trained by inmates and then placed in permanent homes.
Paws On Parole is here to "stay"... as the program prepares to graduate it's twenty first academy of newly trained dogs with a super theme: the Avengers. Meet dogs like Pepper Pots, Dr. Banner and Iron Man to name a few. And these are the men who train them- inmates at the Gainesville work camp who are chosen for their good behavior and dedication to the program.
For Marcus Henry and his trainee Pepper, I guess you could say it's an answered prayer.
Paws On Parole Inmate Handler Marcus Henry said, "Getting feedback from people who say you have totally changed... your attitude, the atmosphere that you exhibit to everybody is just totally different than the Marcus they used to know."
With the help of professional volunteers, Henry and his fellow handlers take care of the dogs 7 days a week teaching them everything they need to know in order to blend into a new family.
Volunteer Dog Trainer Ginger Adams said, "We work on name recognition, sit, recall... so come when called, down, how to wait politely."
Countless hours, games and drills go into preparing these dogs, originally un-adopted from the shelter, to be placed as "Certified Canine Good Citizens" in a forever home.
Every eight weeks the inmates get new dogs to train. Since the program started 126 dogs have been adopted, which is a 100 percent success rate.
Adams said, "It helps not only the inmates, but the dogs and it helps families find dogs that are trained."
From behind bars, Henry helps set the pups free through love and discipline. He said, "Even here in the department it's a second chance for us to get our stuff right and being a part of the second chance for this dog to let her get back out there in the world and enjoy life."
Paws On Parole is in talks with the Alachua County Jail to implement a dog training program there as well.
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