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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Inmates became friends with homeless dogs- shared fate

The below article was originally published on December 19th 2013 on Marta Dziewulska translated it for you so that you could learn about interesting rehabilitation initiatives from around the globe.

We are in a similar situation, because we live behind bars, too. – said inmates from Olsztyn jail, who had been learning to train dogs from a local animal shelter for three weeks. The authorities of Olsztyn jail took their idea of resocialization through contact with dogs from other facilities. It was not difficult to find volunteers for the project. The enrolment lists were long and out of them, we selected eight people who successfully completed the course. – says Piotr Orzol, coordinator of the action.

And he adds -We had to trust that group, because during the classes in the shelter, they were accompanied by only a trainer and one guardian. In such a situation, we had to be sure that none of them would want to use the opportunity and escape. Nothing like that took place, though, and day by day we could see the bond growing between them and the dogs.

Inmates confirm the understanding between the dogs and them as their guardians. They emphasize that they are experiencing the same fate, looking at the world through bars. – It’s only here where a man sees the misery of these animals. – claims Krzysztof, doing five years for participation in an organized crime group. Those meetings had a great positive impact on us and I think it was a jackpot. We have grown fond of those doggies in the last three weeks. It’s a pity we have to leave them here, but I hope they will find good homes. I have already spoken to my wife, that when I get out, we are adopting a dog, preferably from a shelter. I will enjoy teaching it commands, because now I know how to do it.

Other participants of the program speak in a similar tone- I’d grown up with dogs since I was little, so it was pleasure for me. - says Mariusz who didn’t want to disclose what he was in for.

The dog training course that inmates participated in was short, but intensive. They met every day, Monday to Friday and spent six hours there. They started with a one-hour walk and then they proceeded to exercises and taught dogs basic commands. The men received no special treatment, they had to work as hard as people who come to me with their own dogs.- says Magda Biadon, zoopsychologist and animal trainer. The problem was that these dogs live in slightly different conditions than those I usually deal with. Before we started working with them, we had to help them discharge their energy.

Animals were very eager to work and they easily got accustomed to their temporary guardians. – Even to such an extent that they reacted only when inmates called them. – adds Biadon.

At Thursday’s presentation at the shelter the organizers of the action showed pictures taken during the training. There were tears. – I am a tough gal, but today I couldn’t hold it. – says Anna Baranska, the manager of the shelter. – It’s a great action, because our dogs are mostly troubled with lack of human companions and boredom. We will continue our cooperation with Olsztyn’s jail. – she assures.

Two out of eight dogs that participated in the project have already found their homes. New owners had to wait till the end of the training carried out by inmates. – Such skills are an extra bonus when looking for new guardians for dogs. – Explains Baranska.

The first edition of the project ended with a show of new skills learnt by dogs. Inmates said unanimously  that they all were proud of their students. – And you must write that we will personally ensure the dogs will find good homes. – joked Krzysztof, playing with Reda.

The full text in Polish can be found here. 


  1. If these dogs are sent to the pound, it cost to keep them going, so why not let the inmates adopt them and it helps them both, Inmates have very little to keep them going, and the dogs could be a great encouragement to them

  2. that the inmates have the dog's it will help them both

  3. I agree, dogs can bring the best out of a person, Its my understanding several facilities in the states do this and its been mostly good. I also believe there is a waiting list for these types programs although I've been told that many of them are were certain inmates are placed when none of the others will have anything to do with or they are possibly in danger???? I hoped that my son could get in after showing a certificate from the outside world that he is good with dogs, but after hearing rumors he decided it was not the place for him, were they rumors????


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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

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Steven Farris #R5580
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