Meet Tulip! She's a Treeing Walker Hound. Isn't she gorgeous? And she has a sweet, loving temperment. We've seen quite a few hounds in the shelter the past few months. It's unfortunate that some hunters will train hounds to use during hunting season and then dump them when hunting season is over. Tulip here is a prime example that your local shelter has a variety of wonderful breeds waiting for good homes.
We also have a new program at the shelter that dogs like Tulip and many others are now participating in. It's called Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills. Through a partnership with First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP), Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services (JACPS), Jacksonville Humane Society, and the state of Florida correctional system, shelter dogs are placed in correctional facilities to be trained and socialized so they have a better chance of finding a new permanent home through the TAILS program. FCNMHP transports them to one of three rural minimum security facilities in Northeast Florida: the Lawtey Correctional Institution, the Union Correctional Institution, and the Baker Correctional Institution. Each dog is assigned to three prisoners so the dog won’t bond to just one person and will learn to respond to a variety of voices and personalities. Once matched with a dog, the inmates are fully responsible for the dog’s care: feeding, grooming, housebreaking, and obedience training. FCNMHP provides a trainer who instructs the inmates and correction staff how to work with and train a dog. The dog is with at least one inmate 24 hours a day. One of our staff members goes to each facility weekly to observe and troubleshoot any problems. The dogs will stay at the prison for nine to ten weeks.
At the end of the program, the dogs will be crate trained, know basic commands, such as “sit” and “stay,” walk on a leash and generally be well-mannered. Upon their graduation, a new set of canine students will arrive to be trained. The TAILS program benefits both the dogs and their trainers. The dogs going through this program will be much more adoptable, and the inmates will have developed skills in animal training and behavior. TAILS has one additional benefit: for each dog in the program, two canine lives are saved. Placing a dog in the prison means that space opens up in the shelter for another dog that might have been euthanized for lack of space! Such an outstanding program!