A Cobb County animal rescue organization is working with the Georgia Department of Corrections to teach inmates skills that will help them transition back into society and prepare pets for adoption.
Mostly Mutts Pet Rescue and Adoption Center entered into an agreement with the state to provide shelter dogs to pre-selected inmates who train them at the Metro Reentry Facility in Atlanta. The facility lets inmates returning to Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton or Gwinnett counties participate in a variety of academic, vocational and community service projects.
Tammy Turley, executive director with Mostly Mutts, said the program started June 4. The organization provided four dogs to eight inmates for them to train and groom. The dogs live on-site at the facility on Constitution Road in Atlanta. Turley said the state reached out to the Kennesaw-based organization.
“I was very excited to be involved in it,” Turley said.
Lori Benoit, a spokeswoman with the Department of Corrections, said the agency does not pay Mostly Mutts to participate in the program. The inmates are screened to ensure they were not convicted of any animal-related offenses.
Once the dogs successfully complete the training, they graduate from Mostly Mutts University and are ready for adoption. Emily Shervin, training director at Mostly Mutts, said the program has already had a few dogs graduate and get adopted.
“It has exceeded all of our expectations,” Shervin said.
Dr. Heather Corbett, director of career and technical education with the Department of Corrections, said the program is expected to expand to six dogs in 45 days.
“We wanted to ensure this would be a learning experience, that we weren’t just housing the dogs,” Corbett said. “We wanted to make sure that the dogs learned as well as the returning citizens learned.”
The Metro Reentry Facility works with 99 organizations that help inmates, Benoit said. Corbett said there are about 18 animal-related programs in place at Georgia reentry facilities.
Corbett said the inmates participating in the program have been excited about the opportunity to participate since many of them had pets before they were incarcerated. The atmosphere has changed so much that one Corrections employee visits the facility on her days off and volunteers to help with the dogs.
“It truly has been a wraparound community service project,” Corbett said.