Today Canine CellMates and Fulton County Animal Services announced the official launch of the Fulton County Jail Dog Program. The program pairs Fulton County prisoners with dogs taken into Fulton County Animal Services.
The unique program was created to reduce recidivism and improve the lives of inmates while saving dogs from euthanasia in Fulton County. The program is the first of its kind in Atlanta and one of three in the state of Georgia, along with Gwinnett and Chatham Counties. There are approximately 25 in the U.S.
“We are always looking for positive programs that benefit the inmates and best serve the overall community,” said Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson. “This program will motivate the inmates to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and it will teach them responsibility and accountability for the dogs. We are optimistic about the affects this program will have as a whole.”
The dogs chosen by Canine CellMates, working closely with Fulton County Animal Control, will will be temperament tested for selection and placed into the jail dog program. The dogs will live and train with inmates 24 hours a day for eight weeks.
After eight weeks of training and successful completion of the Canine Good Citizen Certification, the dogs will be eligible for adoption, freeing up space for more dogs to be pulled out of Fulton County Animal Control and placed into the jail dog program. The first ten dogs have already been selected and are being prepared to enter the program.
According to a release from the organization, Canine CellMates is a not-for-profit jail dog program that will operate out of Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. The program allows dogs facing potential euthanasia to be pulled from Fulton County Animal Control and become socialized, trained by inmate handlers in the Fulton County Jail, and then adopted out to loving homes.
Victoria Stillwell, one of the world’s most recognized and respected dog trainers, best known for her role as the star of Animal Planet’s hit TV series “It’s Me or the Dog,” is also a supporter of the program.
“I am very excited about the program Canine Cellmates launching at Fulton County Jail. I see tremendous potential for positive change – both in the dogs and the inmates involved,” said Stillwell.
The program is has received corporate sponsorships from BARK ATL, Big Daddy Biscuits, Encore Boutique, Ginger Howard Selections, Lose A Finger Training Treats, Pharr Road Animal Hospital, Red Bandanna, Tara Foods, The UPS Store at Spalding Corners and Zen Dog, and is currently seeking additional sponsors.
“Similar programs have shown a dramatic decrease in violent outbursts in prison and jail facilities, sometimes by as much as 50 percent,” said Canine CellMates Founding Director Susan Jacobs-Meadows. “We are beyond excited about saving dogs’ lives, while becoming a positive force inside the Fulton County Jail. And just imagine those lucky people who rescue a jail dog that has eight weeks of intense training under his collar – what a great companion dog he’s going to be.”
To view the inaugural class of dogs that will be up for adoption at the end of the first cycle of training, please visit http://caninecellmates.org/Meet_Our_Dogs.php.