At-Risk Dogs Are Imprisoned Versus Euthanized

Hard-to-Adopt dogs are classified as at-risk animals which could lead to euthanasia. Animal euthanasia (euthanasia from Greek: εὐθανασία; "good death") is the act of putting an animal to death. Some of reasons for euthanasia include incurable (and especially painful) conditions or diseases, lack of resources to continue supporting the animal, or those who have lived in abusive environments. The procedure is designed to cause minimal pain and distress.


Nonetheless, it would be preferable to allow a dog to live out it years, versus terminating them. The Florida Department of Corrections appears to have an answer. In a program titled TAILS [which stands for Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills], this organization was designed to pair at-risk dogs with institutionalized men.

FDC categorizes at-risk canines as those that were seized from dog-fighting, abusive or hoarding environments. Jen Deane, executive director of TAILS told ABC News, the program costs approximately $80,000 a year to run and is funded entirely by donations and Pit Sisters [a Jacksonville-based organization that tends to dogs in need from city shelters.]

"We take the dogs that need us the most," Deane said, adding that they will take up residence at correctional facilities full-time for the duration of the program, where they will sleep in crates next to their trainers. in dorms that accommodate several inmates.

Inmates must be worthy . . .

This initiative involves a "very strict process" for screening both inmates and dogs, Deane said. Inmates who have been charged with any violent or animal-related crimes are of course not eligible. They also cannot have had behavioral issues while incarcerated. Participating in the program is essentially an incentive for good behavior. Even after the dogs graduate, the inmates are permitted to stay in the program and get a new dog "pretty quickly," Deane said.

"We are cautious of who we allow to interact and train with the dogs," Deane said.

Canines must be worthy . . .

On the same token, dogs must be worthy to be included in the program. To that end, they are assessed by a dog aggression and behavior expert before they are selected for the campaign.

"Each dog is assigned to two inmates, who act as a handler and a trainer," Deane said. "They both spend equal amounts of time with the dog, but the trainer tends to have more experience than the handler," Deane said.

The Curriculum

The curriculum coaches four to 11 dogs at a time. From start-to-finish, it totals two to three months to complete training. Internationally, TAILS is recognized through the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, giving inmates professional experience for their resume.

This course is not yet available at any women's facilities, but Deane and her colleagues are in discussions to bring TAILS to girl's juvenile facility in North Florida. Hopefully, I will be able to report on those facilities, in the very near future.

Primary Source: ABC