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A new leash on life: Inmates helping dogs and dogs helping inmates

By ALLISON NORLIAN

ORISKANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Prison training service dog programs are popping up all around the country and may be the next program implemented at the Oneida County Correctional Facility.

The prison pups would be used to help inmates pay back society and learn skills that officials hope will keep them from returning to prison.

The program is something Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol has had in his mind since last year after his friend and colleague, the Albany County's sheriff, implemented the STAR program, or Steps to Adoption Readiness, in his county. The program involves both inmates in the facility and three to four dogs from the local humane society.

Sheriff Maciol said the inmates would live with the dogs for six weeks, "The idea is you introduce the dog to the correctional facility, they get assigned to an inmate, they live with the inmate for 24 hours a day. The inmates are preselected, the dogs are preselected and it's a way to build positive influence in both the animal and the inmate," Maciol said. "They are grooming them, feeding them, walking them teaching them various appropriate mannerisms for dogs."

The correctional facility would work directly with a local humane society, as a way to help unwanted or discarded dogs.

"There is a concern because there are a lot of homeless pets out there," Maciol said. "The thought of the STAR program is designed to help homeless pets and at the same time have positive affect on inmates."

Inmate who committed crimes against animals would not be granted the opportunity to be involved in this program.

If implemented, the Oneida County Correctional Facility would only have two to four dogs participating in the program at a time.

 

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