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Michael F. Easley

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Theodis Beck

North Carolina Department of Correction

For Release: IMMEDIATE Contact: Pamela Walker
Date: July 7, 2004 Phone: (919) 716-3700

Inmates and dogs getting A New Leash on Life
Pilot program celebrates with first graduation ceremony

Inmate trainers participating in “A New Leash on Life,” a pilot dog training program at two state prisons, today said farewell to the first group of dogs to graduate from the program. The five dogs were homeless when they arrived at the prisons, but now they have new adoptive owners.

The program is the first of its kind in the state and is being piloted at Marion Minimum Security Unit and Black Mountain Correctional Center for Women. The inmate trainers work with dogs for at least six weeks teaching basic obedience, house training and socialization, which makes the dogs more adoptable.

“The inmates are showing an immense amount of pride in their work and what they have accomplished in training the dogs,” said Steve Bailey, Division of Prisons’ western region director. “They are taking the responsibility very seriously, which also has caused them to take other educational or vocational programs they are involved in more seriously,” he added. “That’s important because these type programs are designed to help them become more productive citizens when they are released from prison.”

Marion Minimum Security Unit partnered with McDowell County and its animal shelter, which selected three dogs for the program. Black Mountain Correctional Center for Women partnered with the Mimi Paige Foundation and the Asheville Humane Society, which selected two dogs for the program. Both prisons will be working with the same number of new dogs that will start training immediately.

Local businesses, community groups and citizens have gotten involved as well. Many have donated dog food and supplies to the local shelters for use in the program. The county animal shelter or humane society has taken care of veterinary services for the dogs. Certified dog trainers have volunteered to teach the inmates proper animal training techniques.

“The program appears to be a definite winner for both the prisons and the communities they are in,” said Boyd Bennett, Division of Prisons director.

For more information contact:

Perry Franklin
Marion Minimum Security Unit

Victoria Justice or Debbie Hughes
Black Mountain Correctional Center for Women

North Carolina Department of Correction
Public Information Office     4202 Mail Service Center     Raleigh NC 27699-4202
Phone (919) 716-3700      Fax: (919) 716-3795

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