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March 10, 2023 — Incarcerated individuals at Groveland Correctional Facility in Sonyea, N.Y., have become an integral partner when it comes to helping dogs find forever homes. 

Through the Shelter Pups and Incarcerated Individuals Rehabilitation and Integration Training (SPIRIT) program, PEF members at Groveland work with incarcerated individuals to train shelter dogs from the Hornell Humane Society in basic obedience, leash walking, and socialization. They can then be certified as Canine Good Citizens, which helps their odds of adoption.  

“The SPIRIT dog program is for incarcerated veterans to take in puppies and dogs that have been in the Hornell Humane Society dog shelter for either a long time, or dogs that need extra training to become a more adoptable candidate,” said Anne Jordan, an offender rehabilitation coordinator at Groveland, and a PEF member for more than seven years. “The humane society wanted to partner with prisons to help dogs become more adoptable and less stressed. Dogs in shelters are often very stressed, and living with incarcerated individuals lets them live an ‘almost’ normal life.” 

Jordan oversees the program, visiting the dogs and their trainers daily. 

“I work as the middle person between the shelter and the incarcerated individual handlers,” she said. “I often take the dogs out on walks around the facility, taking them into work locations to visit with employees. This socializes the dog, gets them used to accepting strangers’ greetings, plus who doesn’t love a good dog petting? I make sure the dogs have everything they need: food, treats, crates, leashes.”