Puppies for Parole celebrates 5,000 adoptions

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COLUMBIA – Puppies for Parole is responsible for bringing correctional officer Jim Farley and his best friend Junior together.

“The moment that I saw Junior, I immediately went up to the office and told them I wanted my name on the list,” Farley said. “He spends most of his time at home right next to me. I mean he really is like my best friend and doesn’t go anywhere without me and I don’t go anywhere without him.” 

Jim adopted Junior from Puppies for Parole. Since 2010, the program has had more than 5,000 adoptions.

“The purpose of the program is to bring dogs that maybe were not being adopted from shelters and we socialize them and make them more adoptable,” said Rebecca Pierson Algora, the Puppies for Parole coordinator. “We teach them their basic obedience, their house training, kennel training, and it makes them easier to adopt out.”

Selected offenders have the chance to participate in the program to train the dogs. The program has benefits for them as well. Offender handler Timothy Stovall has been in the program for two years.

“From our aspect of it, you learn responsibility, you learn how to judge things, you can’t just act on emotions,” he said. “You have to stop and think, is it best for the dog? Is it best for me? You know and then go on from there. You learn responsibility.”

Stovall said working with animals has also helped him control his anger issues.

“I’ve been an angry person and I really didn’t realize it until I started working with dogs,” he said. “You know you can’t lash out at a dog. That’s not a tough guy to lash out at a dog, so you start realizing, ‘how can I calm myself down to train this animal?’  You know, take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down.”

Pierson said the program also focuses on restorative justice with the criminal offenders.

“Some of them are going right back to our neighborhoods so this is one aspect that allows them to help reintegrate back into society and become the productive citizen that you want as your neighbor.” 

Stovall said the program gives offenders something to do while inside prison, but it’s also given him hope for life after prison. He said, once he’s released, he’d like to continue working with animals. 

 

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