W.O.O.F. Program helps Inmates and Dogs
MARION COUNTY -- One prison has been helping some "four-legged" inmates and one group of women are helping dogs find their home.
"Everybody deserves a second chance," said director of the program, Julie Drexel.
And that's just what some of the women at the Lowell Correctional Institute in Marion County are getting.
"And if given the opportunity, people will grasp it and run with it. If you give them the right knowledge, and you give them the chance to learn, everybody wants to learn. Nobody wants to be here. This was nobody's plan in life," said Drexel.
The women offering obedience and friendship program, also known as "W.O.O.F." began in June of 2011.
The two part program offers training to help service dogs for disabled veterans and also train shelter dogs.
"We have a purpose here… which many people don't get. It's not something that the other women in the prison get to experience," said Allison, a trainer.
Allison has worked with the program for about two years.
She says coming into the program she thought she'd be just training dogs… but what she got was much more.
"Having that constant companionship is wonderful and having a friend here that's not gonna leave at least for a little bit, that I know is gonna be there, and is never gonna judge me, and will love me no matter what is pretty great," said Allison.
The training for the service dogs takes a total of two year… but the training for the shelter dogs only last about eight weeks.
But the women who spend time with these dogs say it gives them a purpose.
"It's probably the best thing that can happen to you in prison. Being here, you're being told what to do, when to do it, and having a dog to care for gives you a reason to wake up every morning. It gives you something else to focus on other than being in prison," said Carrie, a trainer.
The dogs live with the women and are only put in a kennel unless their trainer is not with them.
The women say the constant companionship helps them get by.
"It brings out the best in anybody under the worst of circumstances," said April, a trainer.
And both the women and dogs are spending their time in prison with a friend.
So far about 11 service dogs have gone through the woof program.
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