Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

New Dog Shelter Gives Inmates and Canines a "Second Chance"

Keely Sullivan

  A new dog shelter opened today at a place many might not expect.  Officials cut the ribbon at the Second Chance Canine adoption shelter at the Jamesville Correctional Facility.  The new shelter will be run by inmates who will work with dogs and learn dog training skills for future jobs. County Executive Joanie Mahoney is thrilled with the new job training initiative. She says the dogs will improve inmate behavior and also the community.

“A lot of the inmates here come from the same neighborhoods where some of those animal cruelty cases are coming from.  It would be really nice to send people back home that  aren't going to want to see that behavior anymore.  I think over time, we'll see a real change in behavior.”    

The shelter will house up to 18 dogs from the DeWitt Animal Hospital. Inmates will work in the shelter if they are on good behavior, and Friends of Second Chance board member Stephanie Higgins says that won’t be hard to come by.  She says training dogs forms a strong bond that makes a job training program meaningful. Higgins watched four inmates get trained who fully embraced the experience.

Credit Keely Sullivan / WAER News
This well-behaved canine will get training from inmates at Jamesville before being put up for adoption.

"This is a big responsibility for them.  They are going to be not only cleaning the shelter, but responsible for training them and being their primary caretakers.  So, when we really honed in on that during our training with them, you could see their faces where they were excited, but a little like, wow, I've got a lot to learn here.”

Funds to build the adoption center came from the county, which eventually cobbled together 350-thousand dollars after significant pushback from county lawmakers.  The rest of the funding will come from volunteers.  Friends of Second Chance President David Sturgis is sure the money will be worth it for everyone.

“When you take an inmate and you give them productivity, they're not going to end up back here.  Let's say we train 10 inmates.  Let's say out of those 10, three don't end up back here, to me, we won.”               

Sturgis says Friends of Second Chance will supervise shelter operations and continue fundraising.  

Credit Keely Sullivan / WAER News
The kennels at the shelter.