I got in the dog program in 2010. I have been around for a long time. Have had a lot of dogs, seen alot of dogs go through here and experienced some crazy stuff.
There have been great times, good memories and some cool dogs. Along with some bad times. I am very thankful that I have been apart of this program for as long as I have. I really can appreciate the opportunity I was given. Not only did I learn more about dogs but about myself too.
When I started this program there was only 16 Dog Handlers and 8 dogs. 2 inmates per dog in a cell. We spend 24 hours with these dogs. They truly are apart of our everyday life.
There are alot of people trying to get in. Needles to say there was a waiting list to be accepted. There was a strict screening process you had to pass just to get an interview.
We had a someone from the outside that came in twice a week to help us train with our dogs. Her name was Ms. Thomas/Blake.
She was kind and very knowledgeable about all the dogs. She talked to us like we people not like we were inmates. That’s just not something we get a lot in here. All in all, she was a good teacher. I still look up to her when it comes to dog training.
She comes in to teach us how to train our dogs and learn dog behavior. This also was a time that we were able to show off to her what we had taught our dogs. To ask questions or concerns if we had any. Also to show how far some dogs have come with their social skills.
At a different points in the session dogs progress through a Bandana color system….
Red – This is the first color the are in when they get here. It means they are unpredictable and they are not to be petted by inmates out side the program. The dogs can not come into contact with other dogs and can not be let off leash. They can’t go to any other building like property, education or out to yard yet.
Yellow – This is the second stage and means the dog can be approached and petted by everyone. Most likely, we have been told that, IF, your dog can come when called you may let them off leash in front of our unit. If not, you can’t. You can also take the dog to different parts of the facility. Like Property, Education and out to yard.
Green – The final stage. Your dog knows all the commands and behaves like a pleasant family dog. It can now Graduate the class.
They are all rescue dogs. Most of dogs that came in were in very bad shape, phisically, medically and mentally. Dogs that have been abandoned, abused or neglected. A lot of the times you just don’t know their background at all.
It was also the time for her to get on the inmates that had to pck up thier training. It does show every week who is training and who isint. It shows in the dog in how the dog acts, how the dog does with thier commands and thier behavior while in class.
We all took pride with how our dogs performed. And it showed in the dog. It always will.
Years ago I remember getting all sorts of publicity. News story’s in papers, interviews with inmates over the phone and even books written about the program. I even was interviewed by a camera crew in my cell about Freedomtails dog program. Also an article was written about me and my little 12 lb Poodle Sir Frederick. Or Fred for short. Check it out at.
We have a graduation here in the visit room at the end of each session. All of the Family’s that have adopted a dog come and enjoy a ceremony and little show that we host for them with the dogs.
We are able to sit down with them at the end and have about 15 to 30 minutes with them and talk about the dog they are taking home. I really get an enjoyment out of seeing the family that has adopted my dog. To have that opportunity to say thank you for adopting this animal and giving it a forever home.
StaffordCreek Correctional Facility is the only one that I know that has this for the public.
Stafford Creek has done a wonderful thing with starting FreedomTails here. It was the first Male Correctional Facility to offer a dog program. I am so glad they did.
I believe this program can help inmates. It seems to bring out the soft side in the big bad convict. I have already witnessed and experienced it myself.
If you have any questions or comments that you want to ask or share with me. Feel free to contact me at JPay.com