Last Thursday, prison officials from Missouri celebrated an innovative program designed to assist both homeless dogs and many of the inmates incarcerated in Missouri’s penal system. The program accepts puppies that are considered poor prospects for adoption due to severe physical handicaps or personality issues and teams them up with two inmates, who work together to socialize the dog and help it pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test. Most dogs are then placed for adoption following an eight week training period; they are listed on websites and adopted by members of the public.
Corrections Director George Lombardi indicated: “We had no idea when we started this obviously that we would reach such a tremendous number of dogs that we’ve basically saved from either being euthanized or living their life out in a cage.”
STX Entertainment seemed to suggest that the program is funded entirely through donations. It is available in 19 of Missouri’s 20 prison facilities, and is open to all inmates except those convicted of animal abuse. Dogs who graduate from the program have learned basic commands.
The program benefits Missouri in several ways, Mr. Lombardi believes. He noted that it alleviates prison tensions and assists inmates. It also benefits crowded animal shelters and the dogs selected for the program. Some of the dogs selected for the prison program are blind or amputees. The 3,000th dog from the program obtained a placement in January of this year.