An intensive rehabilitation program is matching previously unadoptable dogs with inmates inside four California prisons and a juvenile facility.
It’s called Pawsitive Change, and although it was meant to help unwanted dogs become adoptable, it is helping the prisoners just as much.
Tens of thousands of surrendered dogs are euthanized in California every year – many because they have behavioral issues.
Dusty Whitehouse, an inmate at the women’s federal prison in Victorville, spent 14 weeks with Kramer, a mutt who was saved from a Kern County animal shelter.
“I was really numb inside and Kramer kind of healed a lot of those wounds,” Dusty told KTLA.
The program was created in 2016 by Zach Skow, the founder of Marleys Mutts dog rescue. Since then, organizers say 1,100 inmates and more than 400 dogs have gone through the program, which is guided by experienced trainers like Samantha Johnson.
“They get kennel trained and crate trained because we don’t want them to be with their trainer all the time and come out with separation anxiety,” Johnson said. “They’re learning how to be around a lot of different people.”
The women say learning to train man’s best friend isn’t always easy, but the hardest part is knowing they eventually have to say goodbye.
“I just hope they love him as half as much as I do,” Dusty said.
Every round cost Marleys Mutts about $18,000. They say every dog who goes through the Pawsitive Change program eventually gets adopted.