Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 13, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 9



Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 13, 2013 



PRIA: #A4600408

Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc

It never ceases 
to amaze me what 
a positive impact 
animals have on 
human beings. I am convinced that God allowed the animals 
He created to become domesticated for a very specific purpose 
- to help us along in this life on earth. While humans like to 
consider themselves the superior species in the animal kingdom, 
I believe that we should be very careful in assuming we’re “top 
dog” among all living things. I guess it depends upon how you 
define “superior”, and upon what criteria you base the honor of 
that particularly important position.

 These are just a few of the emotionally charged thoughts that 
came rushing like a tidal wave into my mind last week, while 
viewing a documentary about a prison dog program at Dixon 
Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana. This dog rescue 
& training / prisoner rehabilitation program was born out of 
necessity when thousands of pets were inadvertently released or 
evacuated during the wake of hurricane Katrina. The story was 
so touching, I was compelled to seek out similar articles to feed 
my need to know more about how convicts are learning to ‘love 
and let live’ through intimate interaction with canines & cats in 
need. What I found was quite astounding, in terms of the positive 
results of inmates coming together with pets in prison. There are 
numerous such programs throughout the US, and in most cases 
statistics show that released prisoners who participated have gone 
on to live more productive lives than those who did not.

 What enthralls me most about the concept of having pet 
shelters in prisons, is that it demonstrates the universal structure 
and balance of symbiotic relationships between various species, 
and the important part those relationships play in forming a 
better future for all involved. The idea of prisoners caring for 
dogs and cats, who would otherwise be euthanized, makes total 
sense to me. Needy animals are getting the attention and, believe 
or not, even the training they desperately need, while inmates 
gain increased self-esteem by having the responsibility of caring 
for another being. Participating prisoners become very attached 
to the animals for which they are responsible, and upon release 
from prison many choose to pursue certifications required for 
gainful employment where they are able to help care for and train 
sheltered animals in preparation for placement in permanent 

 Participation in prison animal shelter programs is a privilege 
limited strictly to inmates who prove themselves trustworthy 
enough to safely handle and care for the animals, and are willing to 
show them due respect. The program presents a strong incentive 
for prisoners to work hard at maintaining a record of good 
behavior, which helps with the rehabilitation of those who may 
otherwise become frustrated or angry and cause disruption. The 
inmates who benefit most from the program are those who truly 
wish to move onward and upward in life, rather than allowing 
themselves to become perpetual victims of the system, and in my 
opinion, that is indeed the epitome of a “win/win” situation!

 The other beneficial side of the “cooperative canine, cat and 
con” coin, is the fact that the homeless animals that are placed in 
prison shelters typically receive excellent, closely monitored care 
and even obedience training that may or may not be granted in 
public animal shelters. While the SPCA, the Humane Society and 
several other animal rescue agencies work very hard to provide 
optimal treatment & sufficient time for placement, they are 
limited to minimal tax-paid and donated funding to carry out 
the task. In the case of most prison shelters, the inmates build 
and maintain the actual structures themselves, and in some cases 
the inmates are expected to cover part of the cost associated with 
owning a pet.

 Dixon Correctional Institute is one of many prisons that 
have established pet shelter programs. Another one I was 
impressed with is called Operation Second Chance, sponsored 
by a partnership between the Gwinnett County Sherriff’s Dept. 
and The Society of Humane Friends of Georgia. This program, 
which involves inmates working one on one with the animals and 
some becoming certified trainers, is made possible by volunteer 
efforts and pro-bono services provided by animal-loving pet 
professionals who believe in the idea of positive results coming 
from symbiotic relationships between inmates and animals.

 Probably most unique among the prison pet programs I 
learned about is one in Alabama involving convicts who have 
been allowed to adopt the feral cats that were found roaming the 
premises, causing chaos for security officers around the perimeter 
of the prison. In that particular case, hand-picked trustworthy 
inmates, including some on death row, are allowed to keep cats in 
their cells, under the condition that they will accept responsibility 
for the cost to spay or neuter, and that they will feed and care 
for them. Remarkably, most of the inmates who have qualified 
for the program have followed through with their responsibilities 
as promised, and have become much more compliant with daily 
prison activities and have fostered a huge amount of affection for 
their pet, not to mention making it a well-known fact that you do 
not mess with another prisoner’s cat!

Meet a very lovely dog, Pria (A4600408). Pria is a well-
behaved two year old gray and black female Wire Haired 
Dachshund/Terrier mix who was found in La Puente 
on July 1st and brought to the Baldwin Park Shelter. 
Weighing seven and one half pounds, Pria walks well on 
the leash, loves to be held, and seems to be housebroken. 
She likes other dogs her own size and we think she will be 
a wonderful companion for children. Pria is a fabulous 
dog who will make an outstanding best friend and indoor 
pet for anyone in any living situation. To watch a video 
of Pria please visit the following link:

To meet Pria in person, please see her at the Baldwin Park 
Shelter, located at 4275 N. Elton, Baldwin Park, CA 91706 
(Phone: 626-430-2378 or 626-962-3577). She is currently 
available now. For any inquiries about Pria, please reference 
her animal ID number: A4600408. The shelter is open seven 
days a week, 12 pm-7 pm Monday-Thursday and 10am-
5pm Friday-Sunday. This is a high-intake shelter with a 
great need for adoptions. For more information about Pria 
or the adoption process, contact United Hope for Animals 
Volunteer Adoption Coordinator Samantha at Samantha@ To learn more about United Hope 
for Animals’ partnership with the Baldwin Park Shelter 
through its Shelter Support Program, as well as the many 
dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes available for adoption in 
local shelters, visit