Group Pairs Inmates With ‘Death Row Dogs’, 14 Weeks Later Everything Changes

Dogs are man’s best friend, and each one of them deserves a loving fur-ever home! Dogs are not only adorable pets, but they also can teach us many valuable things like patience, responsibility, and how to live in the moment. But, it is a sad reality that there are too many dogs out there and not enough open homes for them to go to. Luckily, there have been many kind-hearted individuals and organizations who are looking to change that, and one of those groups is Pawsitive Change.

Pawsitive Change is an animal advocacy group dedicated to making the lives of homeless dogs and inmates better. Now, this group is taking dogs who are on ‘death row’ and matching them with inmates in an attempt to make a positive impact in the life of the inmate and the animal. The organization’s Facebook page says: “Pawsitive Change is a progressive and intensive rehabilitation program which matches death row dogs with inmates inside California State Prisons. Our goal is to reduce inmate recidivism by providing them a viable skill, while at the same time, saving dogs(‘) lives.”

The group said that there are many great things that can come out of this program. One of their goals is to be able to foster the dogs and change them into well-adjusted, well-behaved animals who are then more likely to be adopted. Another goal is to give these inmates some real-world skills and help provide them with the unconditional love and lessons that only dog owners know.

So, how exactly does this program work? Well, first any qualifying inmates will be paired up with a “death row” dog. Next, the two will go through a 14-week training program that is offered by experienced trainers. The first half of the course is dedicated to helping these inmates learn about dog psychology and rehabilitation, and the second half is more hands-on training work with their pups. By the end of that session, the hope is that the dogs will be able to get their ‘Canine Good Citizen’ certification and then go on to find new forever homes. And so far, every single dog that has gone through this program has been awarded its CGC title!

One unnamed inmate said that he is so grateful for this program and he has learned a lot so far. “By having another life that depends on me I am becoming more responsible,” he said. “By being relied upon I am becoming more accountable. Learning a new skill set makes me more knowledgeable and knowing that while I’m learning, I’m also saving and improving the lives of the animals I’m working with, is helping me to become more compassionate and a better human being.”

Another inmate who went through this 14-week course also praised the program and said it had the capacity to bring wholeness back into his life. “We live in a place where we can’t show our emotion–it’s considered a weakness,” he said. “But with this program, we can feel–give and receive affection. We become cold in here, much more cold (than) when we entered. But these dogs give us a chance to be human.”


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