At Luther Luckett Correctional Complex (LLCC), the dog program is call the "Paws Behind Bars" program (formerly known as Camp Canine). The program began in May 2009. At the end of 2018, approximately 840 dogs had been rescued and forever homes found as a result of the program. In 2018 alone, homes were found for 70 dogs. There are currently 12 dogs in the program.
Since 2014, LLCC partners with the non-profit organization Adopt Me! Bluegrass Pet Rescue in order to have the program. The organization is responsible for choosing the dogs as well as handling their adoption.
The dogs primarily are pulled from shelters that euthanize animals not adopted. They are chosen based on good temperament and health. The program consists of 14 carefully selected inmates: 12 dog handlers, a clerk and a janitor.
The inmates are responsible for their dog 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The inmates are paired up one on one with a dog. They are generally able to correct any health, behavior and training issue in a four to six week timeframe. At the end of this period, almost every dog has an adopting home waiting for them.
Oversight of the inmate's skills training and the dog's progress is provided by Adopt Me! Bluegrass Pet Rescue, and is conducted by professional dog trainer Tyler Boyer of "The Working Pup". These training sessions are conducted weekly. In order to graduate from the program, the dogs are asked to demonstrate good composure and the 10 obedience tasks as outlined in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen program.
Adopt Me! makes provisions for Mr. Boyer to coach the inmates and dogs. In addition, Adopt Me! provides dog food, treats, crates and toys for the dogs. They also provide any necessary medication and/or medical treatment the dogs might need during their stay.
The inmate dog handlers in the program at LLCC ensure proper care of each dog which includes housing, grooming and training. LLCC also employs a dedicated program coordinator to manage the quality of the program. The program coordinator is responsible for the day-to-day issues with the dog handlers and their dogs and is a liaison with the rescue organization to make sure the needs of the dogs are met. The program coordinator is also responsible for providing pictures and bios of the dogs to enable adoptions.
The program is tasked with achieving both rehabilitative and employment prospects for the inmates, as well as training dogs out of shelters to make them more adoptable to the general public. Information about the adoption of the dogs can be found at the following websites:
Adopt A Pet
Adopt Me! Bluegrass Pet Rescue and their Facebook page
In conjunction with Adopt Me! Bluegrass Pet Rescue and LLCC's Paws Behind Bars Program, a new training program for service, therapy and emotional support dogs has recently been launched. The program, called Paws for Me, will select highly qualifies puppies and dogs for adoption to people with specific needs. The training of these puppies and dogs will require months of specialized training. This new program will also enhance the inmates' dog handling skills. Since the dog handlers are trained by professional dog trainer Tyler Boyer in training these service, therapy and emotional support dogs, the handlers will acquire advanced levels of training skills. These skills will be an asset to the inmates as they re-enter society upon their release from prison.