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NWFRC Inmates Train Shelter Dogs; Learn Life Skills

NWFRC Inmates Train Shelter Dogs; Learn Life Skills

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For the past 9 weeks inmates have spent hours with man's best friend, teaching them commands and positive behavior to help them find homes.

"My dog is Wiggles...Mr. Wiggles here," said Northwest Florida Reception Center Inmate David Armstead. 

Armstead and fellow inmate, Greg Strickland, trained Wiggles, who is one of seven dogs graduating Northwest Florida Reception Center's fairly new dog program called FEATS, which stands for Force-Free Education and Training Solutions, a program the Dog Smith created. 

"The entire program is all force free and that's why we named it Force Free Education and Training Solutions because it's not only force free to the dogs but for the guys," said Bethany Jordan, a Dog Smith trainer, who volunteers her time with the inmates. 

While the program aims to give dogs from the local kill shelter a home, it teaches inmates everyday skills.

"It gives them something to do, something to look forward to do, and a feeling of purpose," said Warden William Churchwell at Northwest Florida Reception Center 

"We're in a situation where we're in a correctional institution but we're able to have man's best friend right here with us," said Inmate Greg Strickland. " So were able to have some good time to think about our lives and their lives and it helps us work through issues."

inmates also create a bond with these animals.

"I've grown attached to this little fella," said Armstead. 

It's a bond that makes letting go of Wiggles' leash after Friday's graduation a little difficult.  

"it's going to be hard," said Strickland. "I've been talking to Wiggles about it since last night." 

From Friday's graduation class, four dogs were adopted. Three still need homes: Red, Jack, and Rascal.  

If you are interested in adopting them, you can find pictures of the dogs and an adoption form here: