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Currently, there are 22 dogs enrolled in a program called Pups on Parole. The program is sponsored by the Heaven Can Wait animal shelter. In the program, the dogs live in the prison and have an inmate trainer. The inmates teach and train dogs who may have abused backgrounds. The goal is to prepare them for adoption. In turn, the dogs help prisoners learn new skills in animal care. Program coordinators say this makes inmates more equipped for employment upon their release and less likely to reoffend.
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The program started at the Jean camp in 2004, and then moved to Florence McClure women’s correctional center a year later. Linton was among the first inmates to sign up. 26 inmates at Florence McClure are in the program. To qualify, inmates must be in custody for a minimum of six months. They must also have a good prison history and be free of write-ups for bad conduct. They must also commit to the program for 1 year. Additionally, the program prefers inmates with a particular personality that would work well vvith the dogs.
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Some are concerned that this program is “rewarding” the inmates. However, the program is actually hard work for the inmates. Another plus is that it does not cost the state anything. All supplies are provided by Heaven Can Wait. The trainers have more responsibilities than other inmates since the dogs live in the cells with them. Inmates must wake with the dogs at 5 am to begin training, and get up in the middle of the night if the animal needs anything. To date, nearly 1,000 inmates have patiicipated in Pups on Parole in the last decade. The dogs stay with their trainers until they are adoptable. Every Saturday Heaven Can Wait volunteers take the trained dogs to adoption locations where potential owners can meet the dogs.
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