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Custody Canine Program Inside LA Co. Men's Central Jail Teaches Inmates How to Train & Care for (rescued) Dogs – LASD

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Inmates at the Men's Central Jail are participating in a unique program known as the "Custody Canine Program." Dogs are being housed with the inmates who learn to apply canine training and housebreaking skills to prepare them for adoption. The county jail inmates volunteer for the specialized program, which is offered through the Education Based Incarceration Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

This program started in August 2012 as a partnership with Belmonte's Dog Training and Equipment. Inmates are given two hours of instruction per week by staff from Belmonte's Dog Training, learning how to properly train and care for the dogs.

Two dogs are introduced and placed in an inmate dorm that houses 36 inmates. This allows for 18 inmates to share a structured list of duties with each of the dogs that starts each day at 6:30 a.m. and concludes at 7:30 p.m. The entire training process takes approximately 3-5 weeks for each pair of dogs. Adding to the dogs' comfort and safety, they spend part of their day outdoors on grass lawns adjacent to the jail and they have access to dog crates in their jail dorm.

Eight dogs have already been successfully trained and adopted by loving families. Not surprisingly, most of the dogs have been adopted by either jail employees or civilians who provide inmate services inside the jail. They became inspired to adopt the dogs after observing the transformation of the dogs and their inmate handlers.

The company's founder, Mr. Rick Belmonte, rescues the dogs from several kennels and shelters throughout the southland where they have gone unadopted and face being euthanized. Mr. Belmonte assesses the dogs for their tolerance to being housed in the crowded jail environment and participating in the training program. Each dog is also spayed or neutered, and microchipped. The potential adoptive family is also assessed by Belmonte's staff to ensure there is a good match.

Mr. Belmonte has found that inmates attain a sense of accomplishment during the dogs' development, while also experiencing the emotion of unconditional love that comes from living with the dogs. Each inmate participant receives a certificate of completion for every dog that is trained. Most importantly, the inmates learn skills that can later help them find jobs with animal shelters or training facilities upon their release.

When asked about the effects the program has had on them, inmate responses have been very positive. One inmate stated, "Being in the program is a blessing for both the dog and us inmates. I feel more at ease when I work with the dogs. It's great to see the change in behavior of the dog when we are training with them." Another inmate said, "It's a great privilege for me to be in the program. I like the fact I can change an animal's life and at the same time change mine for the better. Working with the dogs calms me down and I am at peace."

The success of the Custody Canine Program has already led to discussions of expanding the concept to additional jail facilities in the County in the near future. The program is funded through the Inmate Welfare Fund, which in turn is funded through the proceeds from inmate vending and commissary. "I can't think of any better way for someone to reconnect to their own humanity than by spending time with a dog. Dogs are selfless and provide unconditional love. I predict that the canine program will be an outstanding success," said Captain Mike Bornman.

See television news video about this program:

Program pairs dogs with Men's Central Jail inmates (ABC-TV-7)

LASD Custody Canine Program Pairs Inmates With Rescued Dogs (KTLA-TV-5) .....

The Education Based Incarceration Bureau is responsible for managing the 67 inmate educational and vocational programs within the seven Los Angeles County jails. There are approximately 18,000 inmates in the County jail system. Within that population, there are currently more than 7,000 inmates participating in dozens of diverse programs.

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Authored by:

Sergeant Ray Harley (213) 473-2999

Education Based Incarceration Bureau

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

450 Bauchet Street, Room E888, Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 473-2999


Prepared by:

Public Information Officer Nicole Nishida

Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau - Newsroom

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department




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