Ventura County

New program lets jail inmates rehabilitate shelter dogs

Inmates train dogs

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - A new program helping jail inmates and at-risk shelter dogs get a new chance at life is off to a good start.

A nonprofit organization called Pivot Animal Rescue & Educational Outreach offers training programs for both incarcerated adults and juveniles in detention centers.

"We are targeting the people that are the repeat offenders. We are trying to get that person who keeps coming back, trying to communicate with them in a different way,” said Pivot board director John Brockus.

Inmate handlers teach basic obedience, house training, and socialization with positive reinforcement. The inmate handlers are guided by a dog trainer who visits the jail during the week. The dog is also trained by the handler before it is placed in the facility with the inmate.

"It's a quick bonding process that we’ve seen," Brockus said. 

The dogs come from the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, which is a "no-kill" facility.

The pilot program called "Ruff Road" launched at the Todd Road Jail facility in Ventura County.

Six dogs graduated from the 16-week program earning a certificate which shows the dog has met certain standards. The inaugural dogs were adopted into "forever homes."

The inmates do not get to adopt the dogs, but they learn about compassion and selflessness.

Pivot is working on selecting new shelter dogs and reviewing inmate applications for the next cycle. The group is also now in talks with Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley to bring the program to Santa Barbara County Jail.

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