By Julia Jacobo
Hard-to-adopt dogs are starting to symbolize a ray of hope for inmates in Florida who qualify to enter a program that rehabilitates both them for their release back into society, and the dogs as they search for their forever homes.
The Florida Department of Corrections-approved TAILS program — which stands for Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills — focuses on pairing at-risk dogs with institutionalized men. The at-risk dogs are categorized as those that would have been euthanized or were seized from dog-fighting, abusive or hoarding environments, Jen Deane, executive director of TAILS and Pit Sisters, a Jacksonville-based organization that takes dogs in need from city shelters, told ABC News. The program costs about $80,000 a year to run and is funded entirely by Pit Sisters and donations.
“We take the dogs that need us the most,” Deane said, adding that they live at the correctional facilities full-time for the duration of the program and sleep in crates next to their trainers in dorms that house several inmates.
On Jan. 10, Adam Goldberg, the lead photographer for a Tampa-based pet photography company, AGoldPhoto, was given unprecedented access to prisoners in their living quarters at the Putnam County Correctional Institution in Palatka, Florida.
Training typically occurs outside or in the visitor’s room, where Goldberg has taken photos before, but the Florida Department of Corrections gave him special permission to spend time in the dorms, giving him a “rare” glimpse into the restricted area where the dogs are cared for “around the clock,” Goldberg said.