Concho Valley PAWS, a companion animal advocacy organization, has partnered with Eden Detention Center to pilot a canine training program.  The program, Prison PAWS, hopes to prove mutually beneficial to area homeless pets and the facility's prisoners.

"The development of this program was the result of a combined effort among Concho Valley PAWS, Eden Detention Center staff and dog trainer, Valerie Tillery." said PAWS Executive Director, Jenie Wilson.

The program will allow for rescued shelter pets to be matched with specially selected prisoners.  The prisoners will work one-to-one with a skilled dog trainer and the shelter pet.  The purpose of the program is to enrich the lives of the prisoners through the companionship of a healthy dog that was facing euthanasia due to homelessness.  The program allows for the prisoners to serve as "foster pet parents" while teaching prison participants a new set of dog training skills.  Once the dogs graduate from the training, they will be dismissed from the facility and offered to the public for adoption.

"One of the many wonderful things about this program is that these dogs will be trained and tested as Canine Good Citizens.  This is a nationally recognized distinction and it will undoubtedly aid us in placing these dogs in loving forever homes." Wilson said.

As the parties are preparing for the programs launch, Valerie Tillery is currently providing "Train the Trainer" sessions to selected Eden Detention personnel.   Each officer will learn how to facilitate the Canine Good Citizenship Training during these sessions.

"We are very excited to launch this program.  As we look at this from the perspective of a rescue agency, we are thrilled that it will enable us to save many more lives each year and it will allow us to place well trained dogs in homes as family companions."  Wilson said.

The program is modeled after existing, successful programs that have been implemented across the nation.  Programs  resulting in the partnership between correctional departments and animal welfare groups are on the rise as these programs have not only proven beneficial to animal welfare, but enriched the lives of the inmates and provided them with additional skills as well as enhance the skills of communication, relationship building and goal setting.

Prison PAWS is expected to launch on the campus of Eden Detention Center as soon as the fencing installation is complete which should be a matter of weeks.