In 2015, Pit Sisters, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the euthanasia rates of homeless dogs, took over the Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills (TAILS) program from another organization. Since then, the program has helped hundreds of dogs – and humans.
Through the TAILS program, Jen Deane, dog trainer and Pit Sisters founder, works with several correctional facilities in the southeast region of the United States. The program places dogs, who otherwise would have faced euthanasia, with inmates in these facilities. The program uses only positive reinforcement training to teach the dogs new skills and behaviors.
“This program also helps the inmates at the facilities as incidents of violence are much lower in dorms that participate in TAILS. Inmates learn critical skills, such as coping skills, patience, empathy, teamwork, and responsibility through TAILS. So we are impacting both dog and human lives.”
The impact that the program has isn’t small. In 2016, AFF gave TAILS a grant so that they could reach even more animals and people. TAILS worked with and found homes for 200 dogs thanks to the help of 150 inmates, who also benefitted from the program.
We asked Jen what some of her favorite stories from the TAILS program are. She knew right away. She told us about an inmate who decided to make dog training a cornerstone of his life:
“We recently had an inmate trainer released from prison and he was a really good trainer. He became a leader in the program while he was in prison. Every day he would ask me about getting a job working with dogs and every day he would tell me how much he wanted to be a dog trainer.”
The inmate was planning on living in Palm Coast, FL (Pit Sisters is based out of Florida), so Jen recommended him for a job at Flager Humane Society.
“He got the job and they love him there. He was doing so well in his job that we decided to give him a dog training scholarship, thanks to a generous donor. He is currently enrolled in a dog training course and learning more and more about animal welfare and dog training. “
Jen sent us a picture of him working at Flager Humane Society:
She also shared a story about some dogs who had a lot to overcome:
“In 2015, Putnam County had a dog fighting bust. Up until then any dogs seized for dog fighting were automatically euthanized. When we heard about the bust, we met with county officials behind closed doors and asked to help with behavior evaluations and placements. The county agreed. We took in several dogs and put them into TAILS.”
These dogs had special needs due to their background, so Jen modified the TAILS training curriculum, which typically only includes basic training, to set the dogs up for success.
Jen went on to say:
“The facility and the trainers were fantastic and all of the dogs graduated and were adopted!”
Over the past five years, Pit Sisters has saved 650 dogs through their programs, TAILS included. You can follow their efforts to rescue even more dogs on their Facebook page.
You can learn more about our grant programs here.