In response to the editorial of Saturday Sept. 29, concerning the prison program for dogs, The Lima News has a right to their own opinion, but rather than express an opinion specifically, called out the ASPCA in Lima as not being able to express their own opinion.
Most important, what has happened to the inmate who killed the dog? Is he being charged with animal abuse? Why have we not heard anything about that “person tossed aside by society” in the words of The Lima News editorial board.
The Auglaize County Humane Society was a part of the prison program at Oakwood Correctional and also pulled our dogs from this program following the murder of a shelter dog at Warren Correctional. The animals in our care are relying on us to keep them from danger as we try to find forever homes for them. We take that responsibility very seriously. From the beginning, I was skeptical of a program where a dog was given over to an inmate for an extended period of time. My worst fear for one of them is exactly what happened to the dog at Warren Correctional. For that reason, as soon as I heard of the incident, I wanted our dogs home with us.
I will not wish for The Lima News to publicly scold me for my decision to end the program for my shelter. Had your board thoroughly investigated the program and how much actual supervision of the handler inmate and the dog was required before giving us your opinion? How does the editorial board have any clue as to the “benefits ” being “too great to let this type of program end for both the animal and the inmate”? Perhaps a member of the editorial board has visited the shelters and the prison and witnessed the program in action and the resulting behavior of the returning animal? This I doubt, but it was really easy to give us your negative opinion. I also do not consider an inmate to have been “tossed aside by society”. Inmates are incarcerated because they have broken the law. So we are taking an innocent animal who cannot decide and speak for itself and asking them to live for ten weeks in a jail cell with a person we do not know or what he has done to land him in jail.
This program requires shelters and other rescues to bring to the prison two dogs every two weeks for entering into the program. Pitt-bulls and Rottweilers (who would most need the program) are not welcome in the prison program. Shelters everywhere are full of them. A contract between the prison and the rescue puts most of the legal responsibilities back onto the animal agency. If a dog is injured during his two week training ( which has happened to us a few times) it is the rescue’s job to pick up the dog and pay for any veterinarian expense incurred because of the injury. Any rescue personnel has to submit to testing and background checks to even enter the property of the prison to see our dogs and their condition during the ten week program. Even though it was promised that a regular monthly progress report be e-mailed to the rescue group, this did not happen regularly at all. Some of the dogs came back improved, but others did not. Still the risk was there for injury and death of the animal.
Regardless of the opinion of The Lima News Editorial Board, I sleep much better at night knowing all the dogs in our care are safely sleeping in their nice kennels at the shelter waiting for the morning workers to arrive for the day.
Sandra Harrison is president of the Auglaize County Humane Society, 616 N. Dixie Highway, Wapakoneta, Ohio 45895