WSJ: prisons rehabilitate rescue dogs with inmates

What a great idea!  Jennie – this is right up your alley – perfect documentary subject!

WSJ:  Launched in 1981, the program has blossomed into a plethora of nonprofits bearing names like Colorado Cell Dogs, Death Row Dogs and New Leash on Life—all of which rescue dogs from crowded shelters. From there, they get straightened out by prisoners.

With repetition, rehabilitation blooms into skill sets a dog can really be proud of. From fetching tennis balls con-canines learn to pick up house keys for the wheelchair bound. Starting with leash-tugging exercises, a dog may learn to help fallen humans to their feet.

Offenders here earn their way into the dog program by remaining infraction-free during their incarceration. They also earn $1.41 an hour—a good wage in an institution where kitchen jobs or swinging a mop pays less than a third of that.

“This is what gets me through,” says Alvinita Stuart, a convicted murderer whose sentence ends in 2016.

Some also get the benefit of canine therapy, learning to talk out their problems with a psychologist while stroking a well-mannered pooch at their sides.

Ms. Stuart, 49, says she becomes “synchronized” with each dog in her care.

“One taught me how to control myself,” she says. “I learned I had to be fair. I couldn’t be inconsistent.”

She says the best part is having a dog to take back to her unit each night. Recently, she was paired with Zuma, a Lab-Pit Bull mix, whom she is training to be a service dog.

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