By CN Staff
LINCOLN, Neb.— The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) is celebrating a major milestone with a local program that it has been partnering with for 15 years.
Second Chance Pups has been working with trainers from the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP), to prepare dogs for adoption. Recently, the program wrapped up its 50th rotation and has already launched its newest class.
Second Chance Pups selects dogs taken in by animal shelters and rescue facilities and adopts them out, after they have been thoroughly trained by program participants at the penitentiary. To date, 350 men have taken part in the program. More than 450 dogs have been adopted out to new homes. The program first launched at NSP in 2004 and has been going strong ever since.
“The interaction that participants experience when working with their dogs is transformational,” said NDCS Director Scott R. Frakes.
“The responsibility of caring for and training an animal allows each participant to gain new skills and feel a sense of purpose. Second Chance Pups has been a tremendous partner to NDCS. Everyone who has been part of the program can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in its success.”
The dogs come from Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. During nine weeks of obedience training, they are taught how to sit, heel and stay, as well as more complex skills like maneuvering through a crowd and greeting strangers.
Casey Collamore—who has been involved in Second Chance Pups for two years—recently received his tenth dog to train. He says the program keeps him busy and away from negative influences.
“To be in the dog program, you have to learn how to be responsible. Having a dog is like having a best friend with you all of the time. It’s that companionship that gives me a reason to smile every morning.”
Robert Dunkin has also been training dogs through Second Chance Pups for two years and said the program has changed him for the better.
“I like the fact that we can save five or six dogs every few months. Having a dog to wake up to really makes a difference in my mood and has changed my life. It’s well worth it.”
Second Chance Pups Trainer and Adoption Coordinator Melissa Ripley said the trainers often relate to the shelter dogs they train.
“Many times, they never experienced success in the community. It’s good to see them be successful in training the dogs and taking pride in what they are doing. They learn new skills they can take back into the community, wherever they go. The goal is to socialize the dogs so that they are prepared to enter a new home. We take care to match individuals to the dog that best suits them.”
All dogs selected for the program are micro-chipped, vaccinated, groomed, spayed or neutered and up to date on heartworm prevention. Those that are ready for adoption can be viewed on the Second Chance Pups Facebook page. Once selected, the person adopting the dog will also undergo a brief training session with their new pet. More information can be found at www.secondchancepups.com.