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‘It’s like a therapy’: Florida inmates train shelter dogs in new program

Florida

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) – Seminole County inmates dealing with drug issues are training shelter dogs to make them more adoptable.

The program is preparing to send its first graduates into the world.

Two dogs, picked up together as strays, have been in jail for eight weeks now.

The dogs were visiting, but with a purpose.

“It’s something that’s good for all of us; it’s like a therapy,” inmate Eva Viruet said.

For the women in the section of the Seminole County jail set aside for those arrested for and working to leave opioids behind, it was suggested they might train stray dogs so the dogs would know simple commands and behaviors.

“It’s made my road to recovery a lot more therapeutic. They do a lot for us. We do a lot for them, but I think they do more for us,” Kayla Latham said.

The women going through the program can say how much the program has helped them, but for the dogs, the theory is if they’re well-trained, with better manners, they’re more likely to be adopted.

“One of the participants said these animals don’t judge, just really makes them feel good about themselves,” Sheriff Dennis Lemma said.

Basic obedience training is given out by inmates that have had issues of their own.

“You feel upset in some way, or something’s bothering you, like me, I’ll come down I fell asleep one time, reading to her cage,” Viruet said. “I think this process says I can feel proud of myself, I can accomplish great things,” Lemma said.

The hope is the dogs that were picked up together and given training together will also be adopted together.

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