A dog training at New Leash on Life USA is like any other dog training, according to Kyrie Palan, director of community outreach. Baby talk and training clickers resonate as handlers interact with their dogs and trainers talk through instructions.
But at the end of training, the handlers and trainers will return to their prison bunks. Many of these trainers are learning how to handle dogs as part of their personal development training through New Leash on Life, a recidivism reduction program in Philadelphia serving both individuals in the justice system and at-risk dogs.
"No other programs in prison teaches you responsibility, accountability, and time management," Meghan*, a program graduate, said. "Because you're not only responsible for yourself, you have someone else now wholeheartedly relying on you to wake up, to take them out, to train them, to feed them, and to bathe them."
New Leash on Life takes dogs from shelters and pairs them with individuals involved in the justice system — both those in prison who will be getting out soon and the recently released. After the dogs complete their training, they are then eligible for adoption, and often have a family waiting to take them in.
New Leash on Life will also soon begin working with people diverted from prison.
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