Dogs that have a higher risk of being euthanized in the southern Arizona area are being given a second chance in a different kind of “jail.” The New Beginning Canine Program that launched in 2018 has saved the lives of 60 dogs so far.

Prison inmates are paired with dogs from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona so that they may be trained in behavioral issues.

The program is modeled after one in the Lancaster, California area that partners life sentence prisoners with dogs from a local shelter. Tucson couple Tom and Linda Grissom saw a video about the Lancaster program and reached out to prison officials.

Within a typical day in the Arizona Department of Corrections, up to 18 inmates are involved in the program. They perform a variety of tasks at the shelter including maintenance, cleaning, and working to socialize and train the dogs and cats.

The dogs they work with often have issues like aggression, disobedience, and fearfulness. Inmates in the program must adhere to certain things to be in the program, such as good behavior and no write-ups.

Major Dwayne Morman told the Arizona Daily Star, “We can save more lives with them here. We treat them as humans and they’re priceless to us.”