Florida Department of Corrections Inmate Dog Training Programs

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The Dog Obedience Programs below are partnerships program between the Florida Department of Corrections' and various community rescue groups and animal service agencies.  These partnerships are intended to increase the adoptability of shelter dogs and provide inmates with job skills beneficial upon release. During the training period, dogs receive socialization and are taught basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come and to walk by your side without pulling on the leash. All dogs are housebroken and crate-trained and have up-to-date shots. They've been spayed or neutered, and many are microchipped.

Some programs train the dogs to become therapy or service dogs and are trained for up to 18 months. Costs for the dogs range from $30 to $450 depending on program type (service dogs, etc.) and length of training. To locate the program closest to you see the county listing below and contact the service provider for information about dogs available for adoption.

ALACHUA COUNTY

Paws on Parole - Gainesville Correctional Institution Work Camp and Alachua County Animal Services. The program is designed to increase adoptability of selected dogs at the Alachua County Animal Shelter. During the eight-week training period, professional dog trainers volunteer their time to teach inmates how to train dogs in socialization techniques and basic obedience. The inmates learn to train the dogs to the standards of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizens Program. At the end of their training, the dogs take a test consisting of 10 skills needed by well-mannered dogs such as: accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, walking through a crowd, etc. Paws on Parole also includes an Aftercare Network, which is a group that will work with adopting families and their dogs to help integrate the training the dogs received. The adoption fee is $30. For information about the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and a copy of the brochure, click www.akc.org/pdfs/cgc/GK9GC1.pdf. For more information about Paws on Parole adoption and the Aftercare Network contact Hilary Hynes, Public Education Program Coordinator, Alachua County Animal Services at (352) 264-6881 or click the Paws on Parole link at www.pawsonparole.com.

BAKER COUNTY

New Program with the Barking Out Loud Rescue and Baker Correctional Institution coming soon! Check back for details or see https://www.barkingoutloudrescue.org.

BRADFORD COUNTY

New Program with the Safe Animal Shelter and Lawtey Correctional Institution coming soon! Check back for details or see https://safeanimalshelter.com/.

DADE COUNTY and OTHER SOUTH FLORIDA PROGRAMS

Prison Pup Programs - Sago Palm Work Camp, South Florida Reception Center, Moore Haven Correctional Facility and Homestead Correctional Institution. In conjunction with New Horizons Service Dogs Inc., each have an inmate program to train service dogs to assist persons with disabilities, veterans and children with autism. Training lasts anywhere from six months to 18 months depending on the skills required and when complete, dogs are able to assist owners in standing and balance, getting in and out of bed, turning on light switches, opening and closing doors, retrieving dropped items, calling emergency phone numbers and more. Dogs are also trained to assist returning veterans with both battlefield injuries and PTSD. Some of our dogs are trained by inmates to ultimately assist children with autism. The Prison Pup Program is an inmate vocational program where inmates can earn vocational certificates in dog grooming and training while simultaneously preparing dogs to assist persons with disabilities. For more information visit New Horizons Service Dogs at https://newhorizonsservicedogs.org/prison-pup-home-raising. New Horizons Service Dogs will be implementing a new service dog training program at Martin Correctional Institution in Spring of 2019.

Magic City K9 works with Everglades Re Entry Center and Everglades Correctional Institution to provide our South Florida community with trained dogs. Dogs graduating from this program will fill many roles, from wonderfully trained family pets to sophisticated assistance dogs. Our program is versatile and unmatched!

The most unique aspect of our program is that we save dogs, both pure bred and mixed breed, from Miami-Dade Animal Services, and other local animal rescues. Each dog is hand selected and temperament tested by a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.  Our program is truly the last chance for many of the dogs that gain admission. For more information or to view our adorable trained dogs please visit www.magiccityk9.org. You can also find us on Facebook @MagicCityK9 or call 305-245-5014. 

GILCHRIST COUNTY

Cuffs and Collars - Lancaster Correctional Institution and Gilchrist County Animal Services. The program is designed to increase adoptability of selected dogs at the Gilchrist County Animal Shelter. During the eight-week training period, professional dog trainers volunteer their time to teach inmates how to train dogs in socialization techniques and basic obedience. The inmates learn to train the dogs to the standards of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizens Program. At the end of their training, the dogs take a test consisting of 10 skills needed by well-mannered dogs such as: accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, walking through a crowd, etc. The adoption fee is $40. For more information about Cuffs and Collars, please “like” Cuffs and Collars Face Book page.  For adoption information please contact Albert Reese, Program Volunteer at (352)-321-7584, Robert Vaughn, Program Volunteer at (352)-359-3366 or Ericka Hudson, Gilchrist County Animal Services at (352)-463-4084 or click on the Cuffs and Collars link at www.cuffs-and-collars.com

HARDEE COUNTY

Hardee Hero Hounds at Hardee Correctional Institution offers an 8 to 10-week basic obedience program for greyhounds in conjunction with the Greyhound Advancement Center adoption program. The greyhounds are selected from greyhound tracks as they are retired from racing. Greyhounds retire anywhere from around 18 months through 5 years old and weigh between 50 and 95 lbs. The greyhound breed is the perfect institutional dog with their gentle disposition and quiet and calm temperament. A boot camp is also offered to greyhounds who are already adopted.   

Many of our graduates become companion dogs, therapy dogs and service dogs. This program allows greyhounds the greatest opportunity to be adopted. Most of our graduating greyhounds have the ability to pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test upon graduation. The CGC is the training equivalent to that used in therapy dog certification.  Our inmate trainers have also trained greyhounds who have become service dogs (PTSD, Hearing, Asperger’s, etc.) and Emotional Support Animals (ESA). 

The inmate trainers joined this program because they love dogs and wanted to do something productive with their time.  The inmate trainers become responsible for someone other than themselves improving employment skills, in addition to learning dog training skills. The lessons taught to the greyhounds are lifelong lessons, help keep them positive and prepare the inmate trainers with re-entry.  In conjunction with the State of Florida Occupational Credentialing Program, the Greyhound Advancement Center certifies inmate trainers as dog trainers upon completion of the necessary training requirements for Basic Handler, Basic Obedience, Intermediate Dog Trainer and Advanced Dog Trainer. 

Together with the help of our volunteers, we are able to make a difference in the lives of the greyhounds, the inmate trainers and the families adopting greyhounds. Our program needs financial support including donations of dog food, training treats, dog toothpaste and grooming supplies. If you would like to support the Hardee Hero Hound program succeed through adoption, financial contributions or supplies, please contact the Greyhound Advancement Center [email protected].  If you would like to adopt a 45 MPH couch potato, call the Greyhound Advancement Center at (813) 44-GREY1 (813-444-7391) or visit their website at: www.greyhoundadvancementcenter.org

HAMILTON COUNTY

New Program with the Humane Society of Valdosta/Lowndes County and Hamilton Correctional Institution coming soon! Check back for details or see https://www.humanesocietyofvaldosta.org/.

HIGHLANDS COUNTY

HEEL TOGETHER – is a program started by Highland County Sheriff’s Department Animal Shelter at the local jail.  Seeing the success with those participants led the HCSO to a second location and partner with FDC’s Avon Park Work Camp This program transforms the life of the canine, as well as the life of the inmates who work with them.  It teaches the inmates teamwork, leadership, and the quality trade skills, which in turn, makes them more employable, reduces recidivism, and ultimately makes our communities safer.  In addition, it transforms the canine’s life, by bring it from a lonely kennel/kill shelter to an open environment with plenty of socialization and exercise.  The basic skills the canines learn makes them more adoptable to community families and they spend much less time in shelters and more time living their best life.  The program was established January 2019.  Like other canine programs, the dogs live with their assigned handlers (two per canine) full time and the inmates can earn up to four levels of dog training certifications.  The cost to adopt at this time is $80 which includes all shots, sterilization, training, microchipping.  Interested families should contact the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department directly at (863-) 402-7200. Avon Park has been featured on the following:  Heel Together Video AVPCI and On The Road Channel 10.

LEE COUNTY

Second Chance Pals is a partnership between The Florida Department of Corrections / Ft. Myers Work Camp and the Gulf Coast Humane Society. The partnership is intended to increase the adoptability of shelter dogs and provide inmates with job skills. Available and adoptable dogs can be viewed online or by stopping by the Gulf Coast Humane Society at 2010 Arcadia St, Ft. Myers, Florida 33916. To learn more about Second Chance Pals visit https://www.gulfcoasthumanesociety.org/second-chance-pals-cell-dog-program.html

MARION COUNTY

WOOF (Women Offering Obedience and Friendship) at Lowell Correctional Work Camp, has two parts - One giving basic obedience to shelter dogs and the second part- training service dogs for wounded veterans.  Both halves come together to make an exciting program! Rescue dogs are provided by Hailes Angels out of Gainesville. The service dogs are trained for Patriot Service Dogs. To adopt a rescue dogs please contact http://www.hailesangels.org. Learn more about the work Patriot Service Dogs does at http://www.patriotservicedogs.org.

The F.I.D.O. Project (Florida Inmates & Dog Obedience) is a partnership between Marion CI Work Camp and Marion County Animal Services. And will achieve the AKC CGC certificate upon graduation. For more information on the program or how to adopt one of our dogs please visit http://www.marioncountyfl.org/departments-agencies/departments-a-n/animal-services/the-fido-project-inmate-dog-training-program. The adoption fee is $50.

MADISON COUNTY

New Program with the Barking Out Loud Rescue and Madison Correctional Institution coming soon! Check back for details or see https://www.barkingoutloudrescue.org/.

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY

Pawsitive Direction Program -Loxahatchee Animal Rescue Community - Okeechobee Correctional Institution
Shelter dogs are given a second chance through this program. The goals are to teach the handlers to train dogs in basic obedience, socialization and more helping make the dogs more adoptable while teaching skills that lead to successful re-entry for inmates upon release. Special thanks to Dana Ortiz for her training expertise. For information about the program or to adopt contact [email protected] or visit their website at https://www.facebook.com/pawsitivedirectionprogram.

ORANGE COUNTY

Hounds with Hearts - Central Florida Reception Center offers a 10-12 week basic obedience program for greyhounds in conjunction with the Greyhound Advancement Center adoption program. The greyhounds are selected from greyhound tracks as they are retired from racing. Greyhounds retire anywhere from around 18 months through 5 years old and weigh between 50 and 95 lbs. The greyhound breed is the perfect institutional dog with their gentle disposition and quiet and calm temperament. A boot camp is also offered to greyhounds who are already adopted.  

Many of our graduates become companion and therapy dogs. This program allows greyhounds the greatest opportunity to be adopted. Most of our graduating greyhounds have the ability to pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test upon graduation. The CGC is the training equivalent to that used in therapy dog certification.  Our inmate trainers have also trained greyhounds who have become service dogs (PTSD, TBI, etc.) and Emotional Support Animals (ESA).

The inmate trainers joined this program because they love dogs and wanted to do something productive with their time.  The inmate trainers become responsible for someone other than themselves improving employment skills, in addition to learning dog training skills. The lessons taught to the greyhounds are lifelong lessons, help keep them positive and prepare the inmate trainers with re-entry.  In conjunction with the State of Florida Occupational Credentialing Program, the Greyhound Advancement Center certifies inmate trainers as dog trainers upon completion of the necessary training requirements for Basic Handler, Basic Obedience, Intermediate Dog Trainer and Advanced Dog Trainer.

Together with the help of our volunteers, we are able to make a difference in the lives of the greyhounds, the inmate trainers and the families adopting greyhounds. Our program needs financial support including donations of dog food, training treats, dog toothpaste and grooming supplies. If you would like to support the Hardee Hero Hound program succeed through adoption, financial contributions or supplies, please contact the Greyhound Advancement Center by email [email protected]  If you would like to adopt a 45 MPH couch potato, call the Greyhound Advancement Center at (813) 44-GREY1 (813-444-7391) or visit their website at https://www.greyhoundadvancementcenter.org.

PUTNAM COUNTY

Located at Putnam CI this canine obedience training program was established as a partnership between The Florida Department of Corrections and Clay County Animal Services.   For questions and to adopt please https://www.claycountygov.com/departments/animal-services.

UNION COUNTY

ROCK (Rehabilitation Of Castaway K-9’s) Hounds - is a partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections (Union Correctional Institution) and Safe Pet Rescue, Inc. In a 10-week program, inmates provide basic obedience and socialization training to castaway canines. This program started in August of 2013 and has had a great success rate. The inmates training the dogs are 55 and older, and the majority of them are Veterans who served in Vietnam and suffer from PTSD and other mental conditions related to the war. This program has been beneficial to all who come in contact with the dogs, especially those Veteran inmates. The dogs live with their assigned inmates full time and have increased the morale and decreased harshness of the institutional life for staff and inmates. For more information please visit their facebook page 'UCI Rock Hounds' or contact the Safe Pet Rescue, Inc., https://www.safe-pet-rescue-fl.com/.

UNION COUNTY

New Program with the Safe Animal Shelter and New River Correctional Institution coming soon! Check back for details or see https://safeanimalshelter.com/.

UNION COUNTY

New Program with the Safe Animal Shelter and Florida State Prison coming soon! Check back for details or see https://safeanimalshelter.com/.

UNION COUNTY

RMC Paw Camp through a partnership with Lake City Humane Society is a basic dog training program that began in March 2015. The goal is to provide a re-entry program for inmates, while giving abandoned dogs another chance at a forever home. This is a ten-week program that trains former shelter dogs in basic obedience.  For more information please, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/RMC-Paw-Camp/ or https://www.lakecityhumane.org/rmc-paw-camp.

VOLUSIA COUNTY

Pups N Pals was initiated by the West Volusia Kennel Club at Tomoka Correctional Institution and joined by Halifax Humane Society and the Orlando VA with our “Paws of Freedom” offshoot program, where we give companion dogs to veterans who suffer with PTSD, depression or anxiety. Twelve dogs spend seven weeks training with the inmates to learn basic obedience, ‘heel’, ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘come’ commands. They also do basic Rally and Agility training. The goal is to place healthy, spayed/neutered dogs in forever homes, as well as to give inmates skills that they list on their resumes. All dogs are given the AKC Good Citizen Test, and upon passing, the trainers are presented with an AKC certificate noting that they have passed. The new owner who adopts a dog is offered a free seven-week training course by the West Volusia Kennel Club or Halifax Humane Society, in order to become familiar with what the dog has been taught. For further information about the program or adopting a dog, contact: Allyn Weigel, (386)734-7923, or Halifax Humane Society, (386)274-4703, or Tomoka Correctional Institution Work Camp, (386)254-2676. You can also connect with our Facebook page via www.prisonpups.org.

WAKULLA COUNTY

H.A.R.T. Program
This first-of-its-kind dog training program at Wakulla CI is called Heartworm Assistance Rehabilitation Training (H.A.R.T), and its purpose is to provide a place for heartworm positive dogs to complete their recovery following the heartworm shot regiment, which is administered offsite. The dogs are taken through bonding and stationary obedience exercises during the recovery period, which is a few weeks after they get to Wakulla CI. After the recovery period, the dogs transition to moderate obedience training, and then to full active obedience classes and socialization exercises. At the conclusion, the dogs are heartworm free, healthy, well-trained and available for adoption through the Tallahassee-Leon Community Animal Service Center. The heartworm treatment is administered by a volunteer veterinarian and the medication is paid for by the Animal Service Foundation and Merial Limited. Visit the program website at: http://www.talgov.com/animals/animals-hart.aspx.

Florida Department of Corrections Inmate Dog Training Programs 1
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