Inmates as Dog Walkers–What’s Your Take?

Here I am with members of Operation New Hope, a jail dog program in Savannah, GA.

Here I am with GA-based VSPDT Kevin Ray and members of Operation New Hope, a jail dog program in Savannah, GA.

Inmates as dog walkers--is this the next great animal shelter idea?

I recently read a story out of Florida about a local sheriff's department that will be using inmates to help the dogs at the county's animal control receive daily walks. The issue was brought to the Brevard County Commission after a volunteer at the shelter expressed concern that the dogs there were going stir-crazy from a lack of exercise. The county will be saving taxpayer dollars by using inmates not just for general work around the shelter, but also for walking the dogs on a daily basis.

The department will be using only non-violent offenders for the task. Considering the shelter is suffering from a shortage of volunteers, this seems like a great way to keep the dogs happy and exercised as well as giving non-violent inmates a chance to make a difference in their community.

I have had the opportunity to visit with similar programs like the Gwinnett County Jail Dogs Program in Atlanta, Georgia and Operation New Hope in Savannah, GA  and have seen what a remarkable impact it has on the inmates and the dogs. And anyone who has seen Tia Torres and her show Pit Bulls and Parolees on Animal Planet has witnessed the beautiful bond between dogs and parolees.

As long as programs like this are implemented with everyone's safety in mind, I think it is a fantastic model.

What do you think about inmates as dog walkers for shelter dogs? Leave your comments below.

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Positively Expert: Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the internationally acclaimed TV series, It’s Me or the Dog. A bestselling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized and respected as a leader in the field of animal behavior.


2 thoughts on “Inmates as Dog Walkers–What’s Your Take?

  1. otterbird

    I think it's a great idea. There are a small number of equestrian programs at prisons where offenders who will eventually be eligible for parole have the chance to work with horses (the idea with some of the programs is to teach them employable skills when they get out), and many of the inmates remark on the therapeutic benefits for them of spending time with an animal. Companion animals take us out of our own heads and make us exist in the here and now with them, and I think it's incredibly healthy and healing for people. I am not a fan of inmates being used for unpaid labor in most circumstances, but in the case of something like this, a task that community members themselves will volunteer for (because it's emotionally rewarding and fun), I think it's a win-win all around, for the inmates and the dogs.

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