Prison dogs do well
NEW inmates Elvis and Tex have received a warm welcome from prisoners selected for a mutual rehabilitation program.
They are the latest foster dogs-in-residence at Acacia Prison following the re-homing of the prison’s first canine inmate.
Heidi lived with her carers in a self-care prison unit for two months at the medium-security prison in Wooroloo.
Results from dog foster programs show positive relationships between inmates and inmates and staff.
The prison partnership with Shenton Park Dogs’ Refuge began in June.
“Offenders benefit from newfound responsibility and the unconditional love and affection of the dogs, which helps in their pre-release rehabilitation pathway,” a prison spokeswoman said.
Prisoners trained in dog handling at the Serco-run facility in Wooroloo also worked in peer support, resulting in the fostered hounds assisting in relaxing prisoners.
Qualified dog trainer Cecile Ashen-Young was pleased with the progress made through the prisoner dog-handling training and care program.
“Heidi was very stressed in the kennel environment and the time out of this environment at the prison gave her a much-needed respite plus one-on-one care, which assisted in lessening her anxiety,” the dog trainer said.
Canine rehabilitation consists of daily training and walks with carers and weekly sessions with an experienced dog trainer.
Basic obedience and behaviour are essential for a chance at adoption into a permanent home.
Refuge CEO Judy Flanagan said Heidi returned to the refuge for only a week or two before new owners offered a permanent home.
The dog-handling program provides an opportunity for offenders to give back to the community in a positive way.
“It has given me a sense of achievement,” a prison dog handler said.
“We don’t often get the opportunity to help and it’s good we are able to give something back.”
Acacia Prison Director Nick Cameron said prisoners and staff were delighted to learn Heidi had a permanent home after the foster care received at Acacia.
“It’s a great opportunity for prisoners to give back to society, and we are pleased we can assist the Shenton Park Dogs’ Refuge Home in this way.
“I know it assists the prisoners involved, in their preparation to return to their families and communities,” Mr Cameron said.
A description, photograph and, in some cases, a video of a dog in need of a home are available at www.dogshome.org.au.
Good boy: Tex receives a reward for good behaviour.
Elvis learns to place a paw on his trainer’s hand.