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Worcester County Sheriff’s Dept. Pairs Inmates with Shelter Dogs

Monday, May 25, 2015

 

Inmates Luis Maldonado and Matthew Witaszek use voice commands and treats to help train Second Chance Animal Shelter dogs Gabe and Remy while in the yard of the work release building at the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction - Photo Courtesy of Worcester County Sheriff's Dept.

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis recently announced that he has teamed up with East Brookfield's Second Chance Animal Shelter to start a new program that pairs shelter dogs with low-risk inmates at the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction.

"One of the things we did when I got elected sheriff was to rescue a dog from the Sterling Animal Shelter and we trained him to be the most sophisticated drug sniffing dog in the county.  Now we have two shelter dogs trained and working for our department," said Evangelidis.  "I've always loved the possibility of bringing animals into the correctional world and I’m glad we have been able to bring that to fruition with this program." Evangelidis owns two shelter dogs of his own.

One-year-old yellow lab Remy, and four-month-old kennel mix Gabe are the two newest members at the House of Correction. Once considered "unadoptable," these dogs now get a second chance by taking advantage of the inmates time and attention.

Each dog is paired with two pre-screened inmate "handlers" that were trained by the staff from the Second Chance Animal Shelter in behavioral techniques. The dogs are paried with the lowest risk inmates that are considered to be making progress in their own rehabilitation.

“Having the dogs here at our correctional facility has quickly lifted the inmates spirits and created a more upbeat atmosphere.  The reduction in  stress level and tension has also made a safer environment for our correctional staff as well.  Several studies have shown that inmates who bond with animals while incarcerated have lower rates of re-offending and never going back to jail .”  said Evangelidis.  

Thirty four year old inmate Luis Maldonado, handler for lab Remy said “I like taking care of Remy, it give me a sense of responsibility.  He’s a smart dog and I look forward to training and being with him every day, he always cheers me right up.”  

The Second Chance Animal Shelter is appreciative for the Sheriff’s program as well.  “The inmates here have done a super job caring for and training our dogs, we have seen an incredible improvement in their behavior.  Freeing up our kennel space has also meant we can help more dogs.  We truly appreciate Sheriff Evangelidis hosting this program, which has helped to place our dogs in homes much faster.” said Second Chance Animal Shelter Adoption Manager Lindsay Doray.

 

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