No, this isn’t a post about sad little puppies behind bars in pounds and shelters across the country. This is a much happier post about the awesome programs that take in homeless dogs and train them in prison.
Before I finally went to the Humane Society, I spent night after night trolling the internet for dogs. There were so many choices, and I was still unsure if I should adopt a dog at all. I finally submitted an application for a dog in a prison program. The closest one to me, it seemed, that actually adopted those dogs out to the general public (as opposed to training service dogs) was in Virginia. (I may have been wrong about that, as there seems to be one in PA, HopeDogs.)
The fates conspired against Bella and I (though I highly suggest you, dear reader, consider adopting her). A series of miscommunication between the adoption coordinator and myself ended up with me thinking they hated me and were rejecting me by not bothering to call me back or return my emails. Then my friend came to visit, we went over to the Humane Society, I met Mother Maybelle and she came home with me. A couple days later I got an email from the pen Pals People saying they’d thought they had emailed me only to realize they hadn’t. By then it was too late, but I did get some ideas about training from the list of amazing things Bella could do.
I’d kind of forgotten about the prison pups until I tuned into Pit Bulls and Parolees — a really great show — and watched Tia visiting prison dogs in Mississippi. I was especially happy about this because, having traveled the gulf coast, it’s clear the stray dogs there (and even some of the not-stray ones) need help. I saw pregnant dogs roaming the streets, decayed carcasses in ditches on the side of the road (and even one in front of a church). It was painful to watch a pregnant dog hang out in the Sonic parking lot in Kentwood, Lousiana and not be able to do a thing about it. (Maybe that’s why I adopted May, who is clearly the proud mama of a litter or two.)
When you consider how successful these programs are when it comes to rehabilitating prisoners as well as dogs, it’s a wonder they aren’t on every cell block across the America.
Here’s a list of prison dog programs. It’s not comprehensive but it’s a start. And if you’re looking to adopt a well-trained dog, there’s no better place to start.