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CPT Participates in Gwinnett Jaildogs Program
November 19, 2015
On October 14, October 28, and November 19, CPT President and Head Trainer Mark Spivak visited the Gwinnett Jail to instruct prisoners on proper dog training techniques to better prepare rescue dogs for adoption into permanent homes and for participation in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) sponsored CPT/Emory fMRI projects.
The Gwinnett Jaildogs program, formally called Operation Second Chance, is a partnership between the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department and the Society of Humane Friends of Georgia. The genesis occurred as Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway became increasingly appalled at the high number of dogs euthanized in the county. Consequently, Sheriff Conway developed the program in February 2010 as a resource for concurrently saving the lives of abandoned animals and improving the lives of Gwinnett Jail inmates.
The process begins when the Society of Humane Friends of Georgia pulls dogs from the euthanasia line at Gwinnett County Animal Control and brings them to the jail. Once at the jail each dog is placed with a primary and secondary inmate who collaborate to feed, groom, and train the dog. The prisoners are screened and specially selected for inclusion in the Jaildogs unit, as participation is considered a privilege and is in high demand amongst inmates. During the training period the program dogs live with the assigned inmates 24/7. Then, once the dogs are prepared to a satisfactory level, they are made available for adoption through the Society of Humane Friends.
The fortunate dogs receive a second chance at life and obedience training that increases the probability of a future adoption. Meanwhile, the inmates learn social and vocational skills that will benefit them upon their release. Moreover, the companionship of the animals improves the quality of life of the inmates, which is a major reason for the program’s popularity within the prison population.
The program began experimentally with 5 dogs marked for euthanasia. Success has enlarged the program, whereby Jaildogs now trains 15 dogs simultaneously and continuously introduces new dogs after existing dogs achieve adoption. Professional trainers, groomers, and veterinary technicians educate the inmates how to instruct and manage the dogs. During their temporary residence at the jail, the dogs learn basic obedience, manners, tricks, and agility behaviors that increase the adoptability of the animals. Since its inception, Jaildogs has facilitated the adoption of over 200 dogs into permanent homes.
And in October 2013 Operation Second Chance expanded to include cats. Jail Cats is housed within Unit 2D of the women’s section of the Gwinnett Jail. The Jail Cats program saves feline lives, teaches female inmates valuable life skills, and helps inmates to better cope with life both while in prison and, more importantly, upon their release.
The Jaildogs and Jail Cats programs are maintained exclusively by volunteer labor and donor contributions. No dollars are allotted from the Gwinnett County budget. The Society of Humane Friends of Georgia provides necessary monies, selects the dogs and cats, manages the adoption paperwork and meetings, and schedules trainers and volunteers. Nevertheless, the program welcomes additional donor monies to provide food and veterinary services that maintain the health of the animals and additional professional training services that educate the inmates.
If you wish to adopt an Operation Second Chance dog or cat or wish to contribute financially to the program, please contact the Society of Humane Friends via their website: www.sohfga.com.