‘Best thing I’ve done in 40 years’: Program gives new life to dogs, inmates

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MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Baldwin County Animal Shelter dogs threatened with euthanization found guardian angels in prison inmates.

Charlie Young has been in jail for nearly 40 years, but he’s had a few companions to help pass the time. “This has been the most positive thing I’ve done in 40 years,” he said.

Since 2015, the Baldwin County Animal Shelter along with the Riverbend Correctional Facility have found 43 dogs “forever homes” – thanks to the Jail Dog Program.

Inmates in the program care for their dogs 24 hours a day. “Oftentimes they are rehabilitating a dog from traumatic events in their life,” program coordinator Debra Campbell said.

Not only do the inmates prepare the dogs for a new family, but the dogs also prepare inmates for life outside the cells. “We have to learn to transition back out in society,” inmate Minchillo Clark said.

Inmate Clifford White takes care of his program dog, Riley. He says he helps Riley trust humans again after the dog was abused by his previous owners.

Inmates say the dogs also give them a second chance at life. 

“This program has helped me become a better person and to trust people again,” White said.

According to Campbell, the inmates that have gone through the Jail Dog Program have not returned to prison.

Inmates receive a K-9 training certification from Central Georgia Technical College.

To adopt a dog, go to www.petfinder.com

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Tanya comes all the way from Chicago, Illinois. She’s a city girl that’s excited to be a part of Middle Georgia’s community and tell your stories! She received a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. She also spent a few semesters studying at San Diego State University. While in college, she interviewed Joan Rivers before she passed away, was on the red carpet for the movie premiere of “Chiraq” and also interned with ABC7’s investigative reporters and Bill Kurtis. Tanya spent nearly 2 years reporting in Billings, Montana where she covered a lot of politics and agriculture. In her spare time, Tanya is a sports fanatic, so even though the Chicago Bears and Bulls didn’t know how to win this season, she still roots for them. You can guarantee you’ll run into her at the gym every day. If you do, stop by and say hi! Share your stories with her and don’t be surprised if she’s hiding chocolate chip cookies in her gym bag.