The Clallam Bay Corrections Center in Washington is trying something wonderful, and it is healing both inmates and neglected dogs alike.
In the five years that the dog training program has been used, over 200 dogs have gotten a new chance in life, and even more inmates have been given the chance to improve their own lives as well. Inmates who participate in the program learn about responsibility, and while learning about the care of dogs, acquire a new skill along the way.
Inmates must first earn the right to participate, and once they are accepted, they are given dogs or puppies to train. The animals sleep in the inmates’ cells, are taken on regular walks, and loved as constant companions. The dogs become used to kind humans, healing themselves and the inmates who have been hardened by difficult circumstances in life.
The dogs, while learning to trust humans and learn good behavior, are teaching the inmates about compassion and kindness, something that many inmates admit they had lost sight of in life. Watching a helpless puppy cower in fear at first, then gradually warming up to the people around it, and eventually obeying commands and snuggling in happiness gives the inmates purpose.
The program was so successful, the inmates were able to gain an alternative certification as dog trainers, as inmates cannot be certified under the American Kennel Club. Instead, the Welfare for Animals Guild (WAG) has devised a course that will allow them to continue their work after leaving prison.
WAG has now begun a program to rehabilitate cats. Hopefully it will be just as successful!
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