March 15, 2016
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BROOKSVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Corrections is proud to announce its newest inmate dog training program, “Heel to Heal.” Created in partnership with Penpals, Inc. and Hernando County Animal Services, this program aides shelter dogs suffering from behavioral issues. Participating inmates at Hernando Correctional Institution are individually paired with their canines for an eight week course taught by volunteer instructors. Classes are ninety minutes long and take place twice a week for the entirety of the program. When not in class, the dogs accompany their inmate handlers throughout their day.
Secretary Julie Jones said, “Our Department’s inmate dog training programs are a cornerstone of our efforts in reducing recidivism and ensuring successful inmate rehabilitation. “Heel to Heal” ensures that inmates are well-equipped with the vocational skills necessary for successful reintegration, while dramatically increasing the odds of these dogs’ adoption to forever homes.”
The program’s inaugural training session was held on March 8, 2016. All graduating dogs are awarded a Basic Obedience Training completion certificate. Upon adoption, new owners receive a training journal written by the inmate handler which details their dog’s progress throughout the course. Additionally, the volunteer trainers are currently awaiting final AKC qualification as Canine Good Citizen evaluators, bringing an important certification to the budding program.
To learn more about the Department’s dog training programs, please visit http://www.dc.state.fl.us/apps/utopia/learn.html.
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.