DAWGS in Prison celebrates four years


Greyson, trained by lead trainer Mario Otero and his team, was named the class’s Top Dog.

Special to The Star
Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 09:06 AM.

Sandi Christy and Judy Miick hatched a simple idea five years ago.

The two were hoping to make a difference for shelter dogs at the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society and maybe impact the lives of inmates at the Gulf Forestry Camp.

After a year of research and planning, examining similar programs at state prisons, Christy and Miick, with collaboration from the Florida Department of Corrections and the Board of County Commissioners, launched DAWGS in Prison.

DAWGS stands for Developing Adoptable dogs with Good Sociability and to assert that four years later the program is a barking success would represent the understatement of the year.

With the graduation of Class 26 last week, the DAWGS in Prison program has now placed 285 shelter dogs that might not be bounding anywhere in permanent homes in 15 states, from Florida to New Jersey to Ohio.

All but one dog adopted last week went to homes in Florida; one was destined for Pennsylvania.

In the process, 300 inmates have participated in the program, serving as everything from caretaker to trainer to team leader, with several taking their skills behind the bars to productive jobs.

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