Partner Program Reaches Milestone In Training Pups

Nebraska Department of Correctional Services

Lincoln – A program that partners with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is celebrating a major milestone.

For 15 years, Second Chance Pups has been working with trainers from the Nebraska State Penitentiary to prepare dogs for adoption. Recently, the program wrapped up on its 50th rotation and has launched its newest class.

Second Chance Pups selects dogs taken in by animal shelters and rescue facilities and adopts them out, after they have been thoroughly trained by program participants at the penitentiary. To date, 350 men have taken part in the program. More than 450 dogs have been adopted out to homes. The program first launched at the State Penitentiary in 2004 and has been going strong ever since.

“The interaction that participants experience when working with their dogs is transformational,” NDCS Director Scott Frakes said. “The responsibility of caring for and training an animal allows each participant to gain new skills and feel a sense of purpose.”

The dogs come from Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. During nine weeks of obedience training, they are taught how to sit, heel and stay, as well as more complex skills like maneuvering through a crowd and greeting strangers.

Casey Collamore has been involved in Second Chance Pups for two years. He recently received his 10th dog to train. He said the work keeps him busy and away from negative influences.

“To be in the dog program, you have to learn how to be responsible,” Collamore said. “Having a dog is like having a best friend with you all of the time. It’s that companionship that gives me a reason to smile every morning.”

The trainers often relate to the shelter dogs, said Melissa Ripley, Second Chance Pups trainer and adoption coordinator.

“Many times, they never experienced success in the community,” Ripley said. “It’s good to see them be successful in training the dogs and taking pride in what they are doing. They learn new skills they can take back into the community, wherever they go.”

Robert Dunkin has also been training dogs through Second Chance Pups for the last two years. He said the program has changed him for the better.

“I like the fact that we can save five or six dogs every few months,” Dunkin said. “Having a dog to wake up to really makes a difference in my mood and has changed my life.”

The people are matched with the dog that best suits them.

“The goal is to socialize the dogs so that they are prepared to enter a new home,” Ripley said.  

All dogs selected for the program are vaccinated, groomed, spayed or neutered and are up to date on their heartworm prevention. All dogs are microchipped.

Those that are ready for adoption can be viewed on the Second Chance Pups Facebook page. Anyone interested in adopting a dog can find an application at secondchancepups.com.

Once selected, the person who is adopting the dog will also undergo a brief training session with their new pet.

“Second Chance Pups has been a tremendous partner to NDCS,” Frakes said. “Everyone who has been part of the program can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in its success.”

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