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Both inmates and dogs thrive in the Pawsitive Dog Prison Training Program

SPOKANE, Wash. - At the Spokane Humane Society, some dogs are harder to get adopted out than others. Those dogs need some extra attention and training; two things that can be costly to a non-profit. So they have to get creative.

What these dogs need is time, and that's what their trainers have in inmates at Airway Heights Corrections Center. They spend every waking moment with them and the difference after ten weeks is huge, for both dog and man.

At the Airway Heights Corrections Center, lately, there have been a lot of smiling faces.

Inmate Brad Self said, “everyday, people would go when are we getting dogs? When are we getting dogs?”

Thanks to the Spokane Humane Society, the Pawsitive Dog Prison Training program is back after a 6-month hiatus. For just over a month now, participating inmates have been paired up with a pup who otherwise had no real hope of getting adopted.

“We're training the dog, we're giving them some skills to make them more adoptable,” shared inmate Joshua Phillips.

Joshua is two years into a life sentence at the prison. He's been spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with dog Lincoln.

“Whenever he sees me again, the first thing he does when I walk through the door is he gets his little butt wiggle going on. I love it. It's so amazing, I'm like, 'are you doing the little butt wiggle,'” Joshua said of his bond with dog, Lincoln.

Soon, this class of dogs time at the prison will come to an end. Graduation is on the horizon and they'll be adopted out. A tough reality, their trainers are facing.  The program aims to help both ends of the leash. For Joshua, it's changed his life.

He explained, “I've learned how to treat something with love and get results. I never knew that before.”

Inmate Brad Self has noticed an even bigger shift.

“It opens people up.”

And has helped to dial back the prison politics.

“Everybody can laugh when a dog does something silly. It brings out the humanity in us,” explained Brad.

He's has been working with  dogs for four years and is now a mentor for other inmates in the program.
A program that relies solely on donations and volunteers with the Spokane Humane Society and  Diamonds in the Ruff dog trainers.

The efforts of the organizations mean the world to the inmates, as it's their reason for getting up in the morning.

“We want to keep this as long as we can because this has been the best program I've attended in this prison. Really, really wonderful,” said Brad.

Added Joshua, “I say we get lucky because whenever you don't have nobody and you have a dog you got somebody, right?”

You have the chance to help the program keep going. Wednesday night, the Spokane Humane Society is hosting a 'Yappy Hour,” at the McGinnity Room from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 and go towards the Pawsitive Dog Prison Training Program.


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