What is it?
New Leash on Life is a program that matches shelter dogs with inmates for an 8 week training course. The dogs are first spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated, and put on heartworm and flea preventative. Then they spend the next 8 weeks working with an inmate trainer team. The inmates are responsible for all aspects of animal care and training, and spend most of their waking hours working with the dogs.
What do the dogs learn?
First and foremost, the dogs learn basic obedience skills, including sit, down, stay, heel, and walking on a loose leash. Many of our dogs have not had any previous training, and may even lack basic socialization. The trainers focus on these challenges to prepare them for life “on the outside”. Additionally, the dogs learn a few tricks and some beginning agility. New Leash dogs are also Canine Good Citizen certified.
How do you select the dogs that go into the program?
The selection varies every cycle. New Leash dogs are all shelter dogs, and many need the polishing that training provides to make them more appealing to adopters. Our trainers change as individual inmates finish out their terms, so we try to match the dogs with the skill levels of our guys.
How do I adopt a New Leash Dog?
The first step is to fill out an application. Here’s the link. Once your app has been processed, we will arrange a meeting for you with the dog. If everything works out, you will be able to pick up your dog on or after the graduation day. The adoption fee is $200, which doesn’t fully pay for, but puts a dent in the vetting and care that each dog receives while in the program.
Can I put my dog through the program?
This is probably the number one request! Unfortunately, the answer is no. The New Leash on Life program is restricted to shelter and rescue dogs who are not owned by individuals. We would be happy to point you in the direction of some wonderful trainers in the area, so feel free to email us.
How can I help?
Come to a graduation. Tell everyone you know. Once you’ve seen the amazing transition that some of these dogs make, you’ll understand why we feel so strongly about this program.
Why is this important?
This is more than just another way to get dogs adopted. This program changes lives. When the dogs arrive at the correctional center, it’s exciting for everyone, not just the inmate-trainers. We have watched in amazement as cowering, fearful dogs blossom into confident ones who play and perform. We’ve seen dogs who were completely out of control settle into quiet, obedient companions. There are benefits for dogs who aren’t in the program, as well. When people see what amazing animals can come from a shelter, they’re more likely to give a shelter dog a second look, and that’s good for everyone.
It’s not just the dogs, though. This program is important for our inmate trainers, too. We have seen men who had little hope of a bright future after incarceration develop new goals, and hone skills that they can translate into jobs. They learn to apply critical thinking skills, time management, and routine to something that is totally dependent on them. These dogs aren’t just dogs to the men who train them. They are a lifeline — a path to follow that wasn’t there before.