An attorney who has written for us in the past, informed me that he recently acquired a canine graduate of the prison-dog program in his home state. He tells me that he couldn’t be happier with the dog, who’s well behaved and well mannered. Further, he relayed to me that not only was there no evidence to his knowledge, that animals are ill-treated or abused, but in fact, he found the entire program to be stringent and scrupulously managed.
It has long been the policy and perspective of DeafInPrison.com to vehemently support these programs. We believe that these programs save the lives of innumerable unwanted dogs, and likewise the psychological, emotional and social benefit to countless unwanted and forgotten humans, is incomparably profound. These programs show results that border on the phenomenal – helping both dogs and inmates.
Before I continue in relaying the contents of that letter, I need to advise my readers of the following caveats:
- This is anecdotal evidence. I don’t doubt for a second the man’s credibility. However, we need to remember that none of this information can be – or has been – corroborated.
- Even if true, this is one man’s experience, in one state’s program, and in one unique institution. Right or wrong, this article cannot speak for all the prison-dog programs throughout the U.S.
- As has always been the case with inmate letters to DeafInPrison.com, there will be no use of proper names, locations, inmate numbers, or any information that may compromise the individual’s safety or anonymity. This of course makes verification and validation even more difficult, but it is necessary to prevent any harm befalling our sources.
- The following is a tough read, especially if you’re a dog lover. Portions of this article may seem egregious and offensive. If you’re particularly sensitive to dog issues, you may not want to continue reading.
The letter opens with a greeting, followed by the dates he served in the program – 2012 to 2015. He goes on to describe the outside trainers – individuals responsible for evaluating dogs for the program. Generally, these people will go to given shelters and obtain non-adoptable animals. These animals are vetted, and cared for by these trainers until a slot opens up in one of the facilities. The trainers then provide support and education for the inmates. This inmate, in his letter stated that these trainers’ personal hygiene was terrible, and that the dogs that came from their rescue were filthy, smelly and never brushed or bathed. He said that he’s seen dogs come into the program with parasites and skin conditions – the kind of thing that comes from their living area being dirty. Typically, the first thing the inmates do with their new charges, is to bathe them.
The inmate believes that this problem can – and should – be addressed with unannounced and surprise inspections.
A television news source in the area in question, confirms that inmates in the program are first fully screened psychologically. The inmate claims that fact is untrue. He states that he himself was let into the program, and no such screening ever occurred. He goes on to say, that likewise sexual offenders are not allowed in the program. This too, is an untruth. He named, several sex offenders who were working in the program during his tenure. He provided me with not only the names of these individuals, but their inmate numbers. Obviously, I am not going to publish that information, but it certainly adds to the veracity of his missive.
He cites occasions when he witnessed inmates inserting fingers into female canine genitalia, and even using the animals for oral sex.
His last dog in the program, before he quit, came to him with an ear infection. He spent 8 months dealing with facility officials and medical staff, trying to obtain treatment for the dog. When medicine was finally issued to him, it was either too small a dose, or expired. some of the medicines he received were actually as much as 5 years expired. The dog of course, got worse. What struck this individual even more-so than the neglect itself, was the nonchalance amongst those whose job it was to provide him with support.
He finally managed to get word to the state’s animal services department. They sent 2 agents, who interviewed the staff of the facility, and the outside trainers. A week later, the trainers came and took the dog. The trainers were then told by a program administrator, to get the inmate out of the program for contacting an outside agency. the trainers lied to animal services, and failed to follow up on their recommendations regarding the dog. Instead they sent the dog to another county, outside of the agency’s jurisdiction.
He continues in his letter, by telling me of an individual who has a German Shepherd. He has told other program members that if their dogs become aggressive or non-social, he would put the dog in with the Shepherd, to “get his ass kicked.” I have no indication if this has actually occurred, but I would certainly be leery of putting a dog in this person’s care, whether this is joking or not.
The dorms where the dogs are housed, with their inmates, are scarcely populated – often less than a dozen pairs. Therefore, little or no supervision exists. According to the letter, inmates who are unsuited or uninterested will apply for the program, to afford this unsupervised lifestyle. This results in drug use and sex occurring constantly in these dorms.
An individual was seen actually beating some of the dogs, and this individual was called down for the behavior, but staff did nothing. When the other inmates questioned him as to why no punishment, he said that he had too much pull to be removed from the program.
The inmate has written letters to the corporate program sponsor – who will also go unnamed in this article – but says that he gets his letters returned unopened.
He lists numerous abuses – dogs being kicked in the mouth, dogs being smashed against steel poles or concrete walls, and dogs being physically thrown through the air – all incidents were reported, and there has been no action taken, or even any acknowledgement that a report was received.
In closing, I have no difficulty believing everything he stated in his letter. However, I still have nothing but faith in these programs. While it may be true that abuses exist, and that more conscientious monitoring may be required, I can’t imagine any two groups within our society who are better suited to help each other survive – and thrive – than prison inmates and rescue dogs.
BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.
Filed under: Inmate Letters, Service Animal Programs | Tagged: #FreeFelix, #JusticeForFelix, #KeepASLinSchools, #StopHearingLossBullying, BitcoDavid, Deaf in Prison, DeafInPrison.com, Jack Greenberg, Pat Bliss, Service dog | Leave a comment »