I am writing to comment on the article regarding the decision of OSPCA/Allen County Humane Society to pull their dogs from the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution’s PETS Program.
I realize that the Society has the right to remove their animals from the prison. I think it was a mistake, but it was their decision. What I take issue with is the comment that the dogs didn’t “come back to us any better off than they were prior to entering the program.” I was the primary trainer for the PETS Program, and have worked with it for almost 15 years. Most of the dogs we worked with came to us with serious problems that made them tough to adopt. Some had considerable behavior problems and some were totally uncivilized. Our inmate handlers worked hard to improve behavior and to provide basic obedience training for these dogs. In our opinion, all dogs went back to the shelter better off than when they came in.
Taking shelter dogs and working with them full time for at least 10 weeks results in strong bonds between handlers and dogs – sometimes the first bond the dogs have ever had with anyone. Removing dogs from that setting and putting them back into a noisy, crowded kennel at the shelter is very traumatic. Few dogs, if any, would demonstrate the amount of training they had received upon return to their old kennel environment.
It takes a good bit of work to transfer that training to new people. It doesn’t happen automatically. Stating that the dogs came back untrained isn’t fair to the men who worked so hard with them.
Dorothy M. Miner, Delphos