Rose and Brandy have a lot to wag their tails about.
They’re the latest graduates from the cell dog training program, a joint effort of the Suncoast Humane Society and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
The dogs worked through eight weeks of behavioral training to become adoptable. Director of Operations Cheryl Casey, animal behavioral specialist Jorge Villada and head trainer Bess Walmsley were all selected by the Humane Society to work with the six inmates at the Charlotte County Jail. Phil Snyder, executive director of the Humane Society, along with Casey, Villada and Walmsley, selected the dogs.
“The program is designed to teach dogs good manners and basic obedience to improve adoptability,” Casey said. “The dogs are selected sometimes based on length of time here. We felt dogs who would be receptive to the training have nice temperaments, need confidence- building and can be taught good manners.”
Casey said the inmates reinforce the training provided by the Humane Society on a 24/7 basis.
“We give the dog agility training,” she said. “Agility builds confidence in dogs.” Debbie Bowe, spokeswoman for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, said inmates apply and are selected by a board of correctional officers and the Humane Society.
“Brandy, one of the graduates, will be adopted at the Suncoast Humane Society and Rose will be adopted by Jason Chapman upon release from jail,” Bowe said. “Cell dog is a great program for everybody, for the inmates and dogs. It’s a win-win situation.”
Deva Ballentyne, adoptions and store manager at EARS Animal Rescue, said the animals can use all the help they can get.
“A lot of times, places (involving pets) are understaffed and underfunded,” she said. “The more help you have, the more it can help the system. I think cell dog is an excellent idea. It’s therapeutic for inmates. Not all dogs are perfect, the more they can be trained, the better prospect they can find a home.”
“It won’t be considered a 100 percent success until they’re adopted,” Casey said.
Call the Humane Society at 941-474-7884 for more information.