Puppies for Parole Model for England

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FULTON - One of the oldest animal rescues in London is taking a look at Missouri's Puppies for Parole program.

Tuesday was the first of two visits for Claire Horton who works for The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, England. She visited the Algoa Correctional Center and the Jefferson City Corrections Center. The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is one of the oldest animal rescue shelters in the world. The home opened in 1860 and has cared for more than 3.1 million stray dogs and cats since then.

Tina Barnes, an Animal Control Supervisor in Fulton helped answer questions on Tuesday.  She says the Puppies for Parole program "makes dogs more adoptable and makes it more likely for them to find homes."

"They are wanting to implement this type of a program into the correctional facilities over in England... they are wanting to get their penitentiaries on board with this and start having them train some of their dogs and spend time with them," Barnes said.

Barnes said the goal for Horton and the home is to have a similar program up and running within the next year.

Darin Wernig, Fulton's public information officer said there are some economic benefits to having this type of program. "Besides getting these dogs adopted it has saved the city money because it is more expensive to euthanize them."

One hundred eighty-three dogs have already graduated from the program. Barnes says if it weren't for the program about 160 of those 183 dogs would most likely been euthanized.

"Since October of 2011 we have not had to euthanize a single adoptable dog," Wernig said.

"The logistics seem like it should be able to work pretty much anywhere if you have the right prisoners, the right administration on the department of corrections part, then also an animal shelter willing to participate as well," said Wernig on whether this could work for England in the future.

The second visit for Horton will be on Friday May 16 to the Jefferson City Animal Shelter to see first hand how rescue dogs are being rehabilitated and trained again by offenders.