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Local Correctional Center Is Helping Inmates Train Dogs Before Going To Their New Forever Homes

Written by: Dee Michaels
Dee Michaels is a passionate and accomplished writer, renowned for his heartwarming and engaging stories on more
| Published on March 28, 2024

For the past year, the yards of the Billy Moore Correctional Center have been the training ground for an inspiring partnership between inmates and rescue dogs. Coming from the local animal shelters, these dogs wait for a chance to find a forever home, but first, they undergo training in basic commands and obedience led by selected inmates.

Warden John Cochran of the Billy Moore Correctional Center highlights the transformative effect this initiative, known as the Second Chance Initiative Prison Dog Program, has on the inmates involved. “It offers them a sense of responsibility they’ve never experienced before, fundamentally changing them,” he explains.

Image/Story Source Credit: KLTV 7 via YouTube Video

This program serves dual purposes: it not only provides shelter dogs with a new lease on life but also offers inmates an opportunity for redemption and personal growth during and after their incarceration.

Inmate Michael Morgan shares, “It’s been enlightening to learn patience and realize that if I can teach a dog, I can also teach myself.” This sentiment captures the essence of the program’s impact on the inmates.

In collaboration with Rusk County Pets Alive and the Henderson Animal Center, the program pairs each dog with one or two inmates. The training they receive ranges from crate training and housebreaking to more complex tricks like navigating through hula hoops and performing prayers before meals.

Image/Story Source Credit: KLTV 7 via YouTube Video

“The program is an incredible chance for both personal and canine growth,” Morgan adds, underscoring the joy of teaching dogs new tricks.

Jamie Fenton Stearns, who leads the program, brings personal experience from her time as a dog trainer in a similar prison program. “Becoming a dog trainer while incarcerated led me to my dream of starting a prison dog program,” she reflects.

To date, nearly 16 dogs have found homes through the Second Chance Initiative, with future adoptions facilitated through Rusk County Pets Alive. Stearns notes, “Anyone interested can apply through our page, and we ensure the dogs are a good fit for their new environment.”

The program’s organizers, including the staff at BMCC, aim to expand the initiative, allowing more shelter dogs to find homes and providing more inmates with valuable life skills. “Seeing the transformation in these men from when they start to when they’ve trained their first or second dog is remarkable,” Cochran observes, highlighting the profound change in the lives of those touched by the program.

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