State Corrections Program Rehabs Both Dogs and Inmates

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By: Matt Galka
November 10, 2015

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. -- Florida criminals serving time are learning skills they can use in society with the help of some four legged friends. A state program that pairs inmates with dogs is working for both groups.

You would never be able to tell now, but an energetic dog named Binkie running around Wakulla Correctional Institution was once near death.

Binkie had tested heartworm positive, but thanks to some Florida prisoners, she’s back on her paws and ready for a new home.

Binkie is part of a statewide program that pairs heartworm positive dogs with Florida prisoners. Inmates help with rehab and obedience training. For Wakulla Correctional Inmate Bill Sands, it helps him feel free for a little while.

“It makes you feel like you’re still a part of the world, you know? That little bit of family that you lose when you come in here,” said Sands.

Five dogs graduated from Wakulla’s program Tuesday. A new group of dogs will arrive in December. The hope is inmates use some of the skills they learn through the program on the outside.

Sergeant Jeanne Maddox runs Wakulla’s program. She says the skills inmates learn through teaching the dogs are vital for reentry.

“They learn how to work well with others, they learn to appreciate teamwork and the value of that, they learn to appreciate what it really means to help other people,” said Sgt. Maddox.

The program has been running for four years in Wakulla. Three of the five dogs graduating from this group have already been adopted. There are 16 similar inmate dog training programs at state prisons around Florida.

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