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Prison changes not only people

Meet the New Leash On Life program.

The groundbreaking program has innovated a new adoption strategy that is taking Pennsylvania corrections by storm: Give at-risk shelter dogs a new chance at life by partnering them with trained inmates who prepare the pups for the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test.

Eligible dogs are those who are at the greatest risk of being euthanized. By passing the Good Citizen test, the dogs demonstrate they are ready to be placed into furever homes, which dramatically increases their chances of being adopted.

Likewise, participating inmates benefit greatly from the program. Not only do they receive the love and companionship of their trainee dog, they also learn a valuable skill set that will prepare them to successfully transition to life outside prison once they’re released. Inmates learn obedience training, basic animal care, grooming, and attend job readiness workshops. Once released, inmates are able to take what they learned and confidently compete in the job market.

Dogs and inmates spend every moment together during the 12-week training course and live by a tight schedule. Every hour of the day is planned in advance. Inmates are responsible for everything, from the day’s first potty break to crating the dog in their cell at night.

Every dog that has completed the course has passed the AKC’s Good Citizen test, with the 11th graduating class being no exception!

At the close of 2014, thirty dogs from the program have been adopted into furever homes, and over 90% of inmates who graduated the program have qualified for paid internships upon their release.

The program currently operates in the Philadelphia Prisons System and the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, but New Leash hopes that other correctional facilities learn from their example.