COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Thursday the Collier County Sheriff's Office announced it's launching a new program that pairs puppies with inmates.
The goal of the program is to make the dogs disciplined, loving, faithful family pets and increase their chances of landing in a forever home.
At the same time it teaches inmates valuable life lessons and job skills in areas of dog training and dog grooming that they will be able to use after they complete their sentences.
Chance is an 18 week old golden retriever and one of four dogs getting 24/7 training as part of the program.
Michael Simonik, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Naples says, "The dogs are really responding to this one on one program that they're getting because at the shelter they're just one of many volunteers that work with them."
The puppies selected came from troubled homes, but are expected to leave the jail, disciplined and well trained family pets.
"These puppies will be the envy of the neighborhood for any lucky owner," says Jeannie Bates, Director of Behavior for the SW Florida Professional Dog Trainers Alliance.
The program not only provides a second chance for the shelter dogs once they leave the jail, but it also teaches these inmates a lot about life.
"They come in and normally they have low self esteem. They don't care about their self or anybody else and then they take this puppy and they start teaching it leadership and they start teaching it how to do things and get used to dealing with disappointments and how they can work through it," says Jail Captain Beth Richards.
The puppies are each paired with two female inmates. They stay in the cell with the new trainers around the clock. Bates has been working directly with the inmates and the puppies since October. She says she can already see the program is working.
The CCSO is working in conjunction with the Humane Society of Naples and its affiliate Southwest Florida Professional Dog Trainers Alliance.
"The girls are more receptive to the love the puppies," says Bates.
The program has been successfully working in Lee County for several years. Once the dogs complete their training inside the jail they will be returned to the Humane Society of Naples. That is when families will be able to adopt them.