Inmates offer training to homeless dogs and learn new skills in the process


Last year in Arkansas, hundreds of homeless dogs were euthanized because they had nowhere to go and were considered poorly socialized. Paws in Prison’s mission is to change that.

Paws in Prison is made possible through Arkansas Department of Correction’s (ADC) partnership with animal shelters and animal advocate groups around the state. Select inmates have the opportunity to help become trainers of rescue dogs in the program. Inmates work with the dogs teaching them basic obedience skills and to properly socialize the animals, making them more adoptable.

Carrie Kessler is a trainer for the program. She said she’s seen it transform not only the dogs but the inmates involved as well.

Carrie Kessler“Training the dogs gives them a purpose and an opportunity to do good and give back to the community. The dogs are trained using positive reinforcement methods. We teach them basic family manners like not jumping on people and walking well on a leash. One of the most attractive benefits is that they are house trained. People like being able to adopt a rescued dog that comes trained. We also provide follow-up training for the adopter,” she said.

The benefits of this program are three-fold:

  • The Paws in Prison program reduces the number of animals who perish by better preparing them to be loving, obedient and adoptable pets.
  • The program gives inmates the skills necessary to support successful rehabilitation and reentry into the community – and ultimately improve public safety.
  • At the same time, Paws in Prison serves an opportunity for the inmates to do something positive for the communities of Arkansas. In states where similar programs operate, they have had a profound impact on inmates and staff, thus improving security and the quality of life inside the institutions.

ADC modeled its program after a similar one in the Missouri prison system. In August 2011, a four-person team representing ADC traveled to Missouri to see first-hand how that program operates and to get ideas on how to implement a successful program in Arkansas.
Paws in Prison is supported by private donations and the sale of recyclables.
To make donations go to: or via mail to Paws in Prison, in C/O Arkansas Department of Correction, P.O. Box 8707, Pine Bluff, AR 71611. Paws in Prison is a non-profit program and receives no state funds. All donations are tax-deductible, save the lives of dogs and help rehabilitate prisoners in the process.

Some of the animals available for adoption include:

  • OttoOtto. He is a bundle of fun, loves to romp around and play, and greatly enjoys the company of other dogs. Otto loves toys and playing in the water. Otto was rescued as a stray by the Cabot Animal Shelter, and after getting a plea due to their shelter being full, Otto was rescued, placed him in the Paws in Prison program, and given a new start on life. Otto is happy to be out of the shelter, enjoying learning commands, and making new friends. He is great with children and would be a perfect family dog.


Otto is neutered, vaccinated, and micro-chipped. His adoption fee is $250 and he is approximately 10 months old. Otto just graduation from obedience training from the Paws in Prison program. If you are interested in meeting Otto or learning more about the adoption process, please visit online adoption application here:


  • NashNash is a handsome Collie mix that was rescued from the Benton Shelter, and is now enjoying his time in the Paws in Prison training program. Nash’s looks are definitely not his only quality. He is a loving dog that adores attention. He is great with other dogs and really enjoys playing with them. Nash is neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped. At an approximate age of 3 years, he weighs 56 pounds.


Nash is in the Paws in Prison program, where he receives obedience training.  He is expected to graduate as an AKC Canine Good Citizen on 8/27/14. Adoption applications may be submitted now. Nash’s adoption fee is $250. The dogs in this program are specifically selected and trained to be family and companion dogs. They spend 24 hours a day with their trainers. For that reason, they will do best in homes where they are inside dogs and spend lots of time with their families.

If you are interested in meeting Nash or learning more about the adoption process, please visit here:

  • LeaMeet Lea, just a puppy, but ready for a loving forever home. She is about 16 weeks old and will be a medium-sized dog, possibly a shepherd mix. She loves other dogs and people. She is crate trained and knows some basic commands. Her adoption fee is $150. Contact to meet this sweetie.
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