Magic Of Dogs Bestowed On Fulton County Jail

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I’ve long maintained, and no doubt so do our fellow canine lovers, that a dog’s love can change lives. Since 2013, the nonprofit Canine CellMates has boosted spirits by placing shelter dogs inside the cells of some 400 male inmates at Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail, who agree to train them for adoptionToday reports. But it took that effort a step further in September through its year-long Beyond the Bars program, a partnership with the district attorney’s office. Qualifying inmates who pass in-depth interviews no longer have to train the dogs inside the jail. Instead, they’re out in the real world. If they’re successful with training and complete the required classes, the charges against them will be dropped, per the Washington Post.

“I’ve always loved dogs, and here was a chance to make a difference,” Kelvin Simmons, one of the first seven participants, tells the Post. He’d spent seven months in jail awaiting sentencing on assault charges when he was paired with former shelter dog Blazer. “He was locked up, and I was locked up,” he says. “We’d both gone through some tough things in life. And now we were both getting a second chance.” Participants train their dogs at Canine CellMates’ facility four days a week for three months during the program’s first phase. Phase two involves self-help classes covering conflict resolution, financial literacy, and staying out of jail. The program “isn’t a ‘get out of jail free card” but suits those “who need guidance more than they need treatment,” says Deputy DA Jill Hollander.

The program appears to be working. “This program has been a life-changer,” a participant told WUPA as phase one wrapped up in December, adding he planned to become a certified dog trainer. “It’s taught me how to be patient. It’s taught me how to respect other people and other animals.” Though Simmons had to say a tearful goodbye to Blazer, who’s since been adopted, he also says the program “has changed my life.” “I’m now learning how to be a better father and a better listener,” he tells the Post. “I’m learning it’s easier to take a deep breath and relax.” Jacobs-Meadows isn’t surprised. As she told WUPA last year, dogs have that “magical ability to make a human being believe in themselves again.”

No wonder we love dogs so much.  They bring magic into all our lives.

About Post Author

Michael John Scott

Mr. Scott is a political junkie, and animal lover. He is also a U.S. Army veteran, career law enforcement executive, and university professor. Did I mention he loves dogs? A lot?
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