Pri­son dogs do well

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Business - By LYNN GRI­ER­SON

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.

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