March 8, 2016
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Published: March 7, 2016
By: Leah Johnson
To view the article online, visit: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/20160307/convicts-and-canines-five-weeks-down-five-more-to-go-video.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a three-part series that explores how inmates at the Walton Correctional Institute are rehabilitated while training dogs through a program with the Alaqua Animal Refuge. The Daily News will revisit the inmates and their dogs in May.
In partnership with the Alaqua Animal Refuge, a no-kill shelter in Freeport, inmates at the Walton Correctional Institute have the chance to rehabilitate and train abused or neglected dogs in a program they call REACH (Re-entry Efforts Assisting Canines with Homes).
In the beginning, the dogs were a group of high energy misfits who didn’t know anything. Now, Price said she can see the dogs changing.
“Prison dogs are amazing dogs,” she said.
Darrell Tyler, who is 33, said his dog Kristo is the special case of the current group.
Tyler came to the correctional institute after a drug addiction led him to burglary and dealing in stolen property. Since getting involved in the program eight months ago, it’s taught him responsibility he has never known.
“Now I want to see this through and be successful,” Tyler said. “The program from the beginning changed me.”
Chris Justice, who is one of the team leaders, said the dogs aren’t the only ones changing. He said he’s seen his team baby talking their dogs or carrying them around like they are infants.
Justice said the last five weeks have helped the inmates work better as a team…
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 140,000 offenders in the community.