Paws in Prison

dog behind bars

Paws in Prison allows inmates and death-row dogs to help each other.
Image: Shutterstock

What can you do for society if you are stuck behind bars?  Is there any way to repay your debt?  It would certainly be nice to think so.

Everyone deserves a second chance, whether you are a dog on death row or an inmate.  That is the premise behind Paws in Prison.  It’s a dog-training program that gives Arkansas prisoners and pooches a second chance.  Inmates save dogs from being euthanized by training them for adoption, and the dogs teach inmates about responsibility.

“Arkansas may be the last place anyone would think of when it comes to progressive prison programs, but the state does boast one that’s helping inmates while saving the lives of local shelter dogs.”

With Paws in Prison, inmates get a chance to rehabilitate dogs that are not well socialized.  Without their help, the dogs would be put down.  In exchange, the dogs help the men feel better about themselves and give them a positive purpose.

Specifically, the inmates, who have to earn their way in, teach common commands such as “sit,” “stay” and “heel.”  This gives the dogs a new lease on life and gets them ready for adoption. A spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Correction recently explained it’s a second chance for both dogs and inmates.

James Dulaney, a program participant, said, “I’ve been looking for ways to just—even if it’s small—to give back to society in some way.”

Since it started a year and a half ago, about 200 rescue dogs have been trained and adopted thanks to the Paws in Prison program.

“Earning the right to take care of something is a common theme in some inmate programs, like the Sustainability in Prison Project. Based in Washington State, SPP provides inmates the opportunity to participate in scientific studies where they’re tasked with growing certain type of plants, or raising particular insects.”

Initially, taking care of another living being may seem like you are helping them.  However, in the end, you will see all the ways they helped you.

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