Monday, August 20, 2007

Men are from Mars, Dogs are from Venus

I've always been a dog person. Indeed, I like most dogs more than most people, if ever forced to choose. So I strongly support the recent trend in some prisons of teaching inmates to train dogs while they're incarcerated.

The patience and discipline required to train dogs, combined with the companionship and unconditional love a dog can give, teaches inmates values like selflessness and responsibility that prison life usually discourages. In some cases this can be a transformative experience. Last week in Venus, TX, the Cleburne Times reports ("Paws in prisons holds first graduation," Aug. 19), inmates:
showed off the skills of dogs they trained at a graduation ceremony Wednesday at the Sanders Estes Unit ...

The eight week Paws in Prison program ended with inmates thanking Warden David McComis and other prison employees for allowing them to train the dogs.

“This has given me a whole different outlook on life,” said Mario Perez, an inmate who trained a dog named Midnight. “I am planning to stay in the program for one more round.”

Deputy Warden Michael Ringer said the Sanders Estes Unit plans to build the program and bring in more dogs over the next few months.

“This has had a positive impact on our facility,” he said.

The Sanders Estes Unit is the third GEO-run facility to implement Paws in Prison.

Wally Swanson, founder of the Camp Wolfgang dog rescue, donates dogs to the program, and Maximum K9 trainer Gayle Justice teaches inmates to train the dogs.

“There have been less disciplinary issues in the prison since the program began,” Swanson said. “Over the decades I have rarely had an involvement that is win-win like this is.”

Justice said inmates who handle the dogs have a deep concern for them.

“They really love the dogs,” she said. ...

The inmates train the dogs to be more social so they are more likely to be adopted, said GEO K9 Program Manager Michelle Gaconnet. ...

Dixon said the program taught him more about responsibility.

“This has brought a lot into my life,” he said through tears.

Inmate Bradley Waltermire agreed.

“You learn to give care to someone other than yourself,” he said.


Anonymous said...

If a miracle happens and that sicko football player Michael Vick has to do any time in jail he should be required to participate in a program like this.

Anonymous said...

It's funny, I've seen dogs really help victims recover from trauma of crime, I would think it could help inmates as well

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Jim, tell me more about your experiences with dogs and crime victims.

And to anon, honestly I don't think Vick is a good candidate for that - make him clean dog shit, maybe, but don't make him responsible for a dog. There must be other rehabilitation methods for somebody like that. best,

Anonymous said...

Having to care for a pet teaches criminals empathy, which is what they need to be taught. Supposedly, these programs work wonders.

Anonymous said...

I can think of a few prosecutors that could use some empathy.

The favorable results of programs like this highlight the power of rehabilitation.

"Criminals" are not monsters and should not be treated as such. Even Michael Vick could benefit from a little rehab!

Anonymous said...

the only "rehab" Vick needs, is the kind that shows him just what it felt like for those poor animals to be in his care.

I think otherwise this is a wonderful program for offenders to be in. It does teach them empathy and responsibility, but most of all it shows the offenders the understanding of unconditional love. That's what is the most important.

Thanks grits, for all you have provided to us. One qustion, what went on at the BPP board meeting you told us about last week??? Any body got any news???

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grits: How does one find out more about adopting one of these trained dogs?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@8:02 - I don't really know the answer to that question. Here's the contact info for the unit described in the story, but there are probably others.

If anybody knows how to plug in to get a dog from one of these programs, please speak up.

Anonymous said...

gritsy, you gonna teach 'em to train pits?

RoAN :-)

Anonymous said...

I am the Warden at the prison in Venus, Texas. If you would like more information on the "Paws in Prison Program" you may contact the facility at (972)366-3334 and ask to speak to me. It is truly a great program and I expect it to double in about 3-weeks when we start the second phase.