Teaching old dogs new tricks can be difficult, but teaching young dogs obedience is proving to be rewarding for a group of women in Wrightsville.
Inside the barbed wire fence at the Hawkins Center for Women in Wrightsville is perhaps the last place you would think to see inmates running around with their pet dogs, but because the Department of Correction believes everyone needs some sort of second chance, the Paws in Prison program is taking shape for the first time in the State of Arkansas.
"They've had them in other states, and they have been very successful," said Dina Tyler with the Arkansas Department of Correction. "They've helped the dogs find new homes, and it's had a remarkable effect on the inmate population."
"I thought in prison -- that's impossible," said inmate Kelly Pike-Smith. "I thought it was all a dream. I was ready for them to tell me it's not going to happen."
Through the collaborative work of volunteers, the Board of Correction, and Central Arkansas Rescue Effort, these women inmates will work in groups of two to train four dogs, rescued from animal shelters.
"The inmates will have them with them at all times 24-7, and at night they have to sleep in their crates," added Harry Light with C.A.R.E.
Completely funded through donations, the program seeks to make sure the pooches at the end of two months will graduate into loving homes, but first they must be potty trained, become less rambunctious, and simply obedient. The inmates say they're ready for the task.
"She's already sweet, but we want to make sure she's going to give to somebody else what's she's going to give to us," said Kelly Pike-Smith.
A similar program for the male inmates in Pine Bluff and in Malvern was implemented last week. In order to remain in place, Paws in Prison is in need of monetary donations. You can find more information on that, and learn how to adopt these dogs at: adc.arkansas.gov.