Across three correctional institutions in Florida USA, a fantastic programme has been running for 12 years providing hope and happy endings to both inmates and animals; TAILS
TAILS – (Teaching Animals & Inmates Life Skills) is a collaborative effort bringing together prison inmates and hard-to-adopt shelter dogs. It is one of the largest programs of its kind in the USA and fully implemented and paid for by Pit Sisters, a charity that concentrates on what can probably best be described as the “underdog” of the dog world – pit bull-type dogs. Hundreds of thousands were being killed in shelters each year, simply because they had nowhere else to go. They certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, with their “dangerous” label, and a “face only a mother could love” but founder, Jennifer Deane, knew that these dogs are smart, loyal and easily trainable. Sadly for the dogs, they often ended up in the hands, of people who used them for fighting, among other things.
Through partnerships with city shelters across Northeast Florida, The State of Florida Correctional System and Sheriffs’ offices, dogs are placed in correctional facilities to be trained, socialized and cared for by inmates, so that the dogs have a chance of finding a new forever loving home, and the inmates benefit from this important interaction.
TAILS is currently operational in three correction centres across Florida; In Baker Correctional Institution with their Canine Assist with Re-Entry (CARE) programme, and in Lawtey Correctional Institution, and Bridges of Jacksonville with their Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills programmes.
The physical and mental benefits of these programmes impact not only on the inmates and the dogs but on the wider community, on the families and prison staff.
Wardens have observed prisoners increasingly deal with problems by talking rather than fighting and inmates stress levels are noticeably reduced.
One inmate, a Vietnam vet with PTSD, said the dogs have “opened up my wounds and let them heal from within.” Another expressed that the dogs “taught me to trust again.”
Another inmate said “I came to this place full of hate and resentment. I have lost everyone and everything I ever had several times over. Why Lord, why am I here? And then He showed me. These wonderful creatures. All alone, locked up, for the sole crime of being born into a world that does not want them. Seen as mean and vicious, yet here they are, showing me what unconditional love really is and giving me back my heart.”
The TAILS programmes are focused on saving the lives of dogs and their success speaks volumes; All of the graduating TAILS dogs have found forever homes and shelter deaths are down by 95% in just 12 years.
By saving pets lives, these programmes are saving human lives.
To Sponsor or Adopt a TAILS Dog
Contact Jen Deane at firstname.lastname@example.org.