Dogs trained by prisoners - FOX 35 News Orlando

Dogs trained by prisoners

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Plenty of dogs knowthe commands "sit" and "stay," but how many dogs can turn off a light switch,  or will waitpatiently at the door while you check the mail?

Those high-level training skills comestandard with a batch of rescue dogs from the Halifax Humane Society in VolusiaCounty, and get this -- the dogs were all trained by prisoners.

The "Prison Pups N Pals" program is enteringits third year at the Tomoka Correctional Institute. Officer Gail Irwinoversees the program, which is almost entirely handled by the prisonersthemselves! "When they come in to the program, they're rough and toughguys," Officer Irwin tells FOX 35. "And then after spending some time with thedogs, they learn responsibility, how to care for them. They learn how to loveunconditionally these animals, [and] a lot of them haven't had that in theirlife."

The idea came from a founder of the WestVolusia Kennel Club who wanted to see dogs adopted out of local sheltersfaster. "It's just been great," Allyn Wigel says. "And it's getting aroundthe state that the men are better off. Their attitudes are good. They have lessproblems within the prison… have less problems because they have to take careof the dogs 24/7.  I mean, the dogs sleep with them right there in thebarracks!"

Some of the leadtrainers in the program agree it does make a difference for them. "I wasraised in foster care, and I bounced from group home to foster home," TimothyPaskievitch says. "And I've been through what these dogs have been through. So,to give them another chance is kind of like giving myself another chance."

James Quarterman agrees, "I've got mybaggage. The dog has his baggage, but overall? We're even."

To learn more about adopting the well-trainedrescue dogs, click here,  orcontact the Halifax Humane Society at: (386) 274-4703.

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