CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago Animal Care and Control program is connecting dogs in danger of being euthanized with long-term inmates at the Cook County Jail.
Under the Tails of Redemption program, a prisoner shares his cell with a dog for six to eight weeks and trains it so it is ready for adoption, the Chicago Tribune reported .
The five pooches that graduated Wednesday were the second group to complete the program since it launched late last year. All dogs from the first class have been adopted, and three from the 2019 class have been claimed.
"This is not easy, what they've done," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at the ceremony. "From someone who has two dogs who never listen to him ever, it's amazing what these detainees have done."
Dart said inmates facing a homicide or sexual assault charge are disqualified from the program.
Animal Care and Control of Chicago had a 91 percent save rate for dogs in 2018, said the agency's chairwoman, Cynthia Bathurst.
"The more animals that get out, the better it is ... Five dogs every 10 weeks is quite a lot of dogs," Bathurst said, noting that dogs can become ill or troubled after about 60 days in a shelter.
Larger dogs that reside at the shelter for a longer period of time, such as those chosen for the program, have greater chances of developing behavioral issues, said Janice Triptow, Safe Humane Chicago's manager of behavioral training. Those dogs could have kennel issues or lack the social skills necessary to be handled by volunteers.
But, "they are still trainable and certainly workable dogs," she said.