Canine CellMates is one of those win-win organizations we love to hear about.* This program was started in 2013, by Susan Jacobs-Meadows, an Army veteran and dog-lover who seems to always see what's possible. It operates at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia and rescues shelter dogs from the Fulton County Animal Shelter.
The program matches convicted felons with shelter dogs, and guides the inmate as they train the dog in general obedience tasks. During the 10-week program the inmates also receive education and guidance on overall care of the dogs. According to the program, "the ultimate goal is that each dog graduates and goes into a loving and forever home, and men that have evolved while in the program and supported upon their release, go on to live productive lives without further incarceration."
Even though the training is focused on the dogs, the inmates receive a good deal of education as well. Canine CellMates brings into the jail motivation speakers to teach, educate and inspire the inmates. The hope is that they will make productive use of their time while incarcerated and then continue down a positive path once released.
The benefits to the men who participate are numerous. Responsibility for a living being, accountability and confidence are just some of the skills they acquire or fine-tune. Their exposure to unconditional love, from these shelter dogs, is just the icing on the cake!
Over 100 inmates have participated in this program, which is truly changing lives - both canine and human. Shelter pets are just looking for a second chance, and the same can be said for the felons which demonstrate their commitment to this program. CFC wishes both groups success!