Tony Ward, left, and Brandon Rathbun bond quickly
with their dog Burlesque during the meet and greet
portion of the Puppies for Parole program, March
19, 2014, at the Missouri Eastern Correctional
Center in Pacific.
Mo. ó The inmates sat quietly on a recent Wednesday,
watching intently as each Stray Rescue dog was led into
a room at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center.
was the first time they saw the dogs that will share
their cells, and most aspects of their lives, for the
next three months.
all come from horrible backgrounds," Randy Grim,
the rescue groupís founder, told them. The dogs had
lived on the streets, been abused, been sick.
need help, and a lot of time and a lot of patience, to
make them adoptable.
where the inmates come in.
by one, each dogís name was called with the names of
the two cellmates paired with it through the Puppies for
the first time Stray Rescue of St. Louis has
inmates at the medium-security prison will teach seven
Stray Rescue dogs basic obedience and socialization
skills in hopes of getting the dogs certified as
"canine good citizens."
dogs will sleep in crates in the inmatesí cells and
can go with the inmates to most places around the
prison, but not to the visitorsí area or to the
will be made available for adoption through Stray Rescue
after completing the program.
than 2,000 Puppies for Parole dogs have been adopted,
according to the Missouri Department of Corrections. The
program is funded by donations and receives no tax
Rescue is all about second chances, and I would think
thatís how it is here," Grim said.
Pacific, Mo., prison has been without rescue dogs for
about a year, and theyíve been sorely missed, said
Warden Jennifer Sachse.
have a calming effect," she said, recalling an
elderly inmate who hadnít touched a dog in years and
cried when he got to pet one.
inmates beamed as they led the leashed dogs outside,
stooping to scratch their ears and laughing when the
dogs clamored for attention.
really appreciate this," said Chris Smith, who is
paired with Ralph, a 2-year-old terrier and Boxer mix,
as he walked by Grim.
who is serving a 15-year sentence for second-degree
murder, trained four dogs through the Puppies for Parole
program while in another prison.
dogs require the most patience in the first weeks as
they adjust to their new surroundings, he said. Officers
allow the inmates to take the dogs outside as needed
when teaching house-training.
a way to give back to the community," said Smith,
Ross also has experience with the program ó he fondly
remembers Lila, the black Labrador he trained.
felt so much joy when she was adopted," said Ross,
45, who is serving a 10-year sentence for burglary.
Still, he said the dogís departure was bittersweet.
and his cellmate Jose Cintron were paired Wednesday with
Ruby, a shy pit-bull terrier mix Grim found on the
streets of St. Louis.
benefits the dog, but it benefits us too," said
Cintron, 55, who is serving an eight-year sentence for
theft and already worries that it will be hard to part
with Ruby when the time comes.