DAWGS in Prison graduates 23rd class

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012 at 09:32 AM.

Kelly, who has participated in the program since March of last year has personally trained, and thus saved, 10 dogs.

Enrique Santos, in the program since November 2009, has trained 12 dogs and is, like Kelly, a team leader.

“I’ve learned responsibility, I’ve learned how to be a teacher, a better person and how to communicate with other people,” Kelly said. “It has just made me a better all-around person.”

Several inmates have gone on to work with dogs once released. One former inmate works for a veterinary doctor in Oregon, another with a shelter in Sarasota.

The dogs are screened the St. Joseph Humane Society shelter for sociability and their ability to be trained. The inmates apply with Gulf Forestry Camp staff and are chosen and remain in the program based on hard work and their willingness to, well, get with the program.

Once matched with a dog, inmates are responsible for the dogs care: feeding, grooming, housebreaking and obedience training.

The inmate teams are charged with keeping meticulous records of the care provided each dog.

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