‘We’re learning love’: Inmates becoming dog trainers while finding pups forever homes

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The Everglades Correctional Institute in southwest Miami-Dade County is giving a second chance to both inmates and dogs.

The nonprofit Magic City K9 hosted an event that allowed inmates to become certified dog trainers while providing the pups a chance for adoption.

This is all about rehabilitation, for the inmates, but also for the dogs as both are just looking for another shot at life.

“We’re learning patience, we’re learning love, we’re learning how to communicate,” said inmate Scott Turner.

Inmates carefully guided shelter dogs Wednesday as they weaved through cones, and show they know how to sit, heel and lay down.

Judges and an audience observed.

“As much as we’re rescuing and rehabilitating these dogs, they’re just as much doing that for us,” said Turner.

Inside the institute, the program gives shelter dogs a new opportunity and it gives inmates a new skill.

“I am really centered on making sure that I give these inmates, who are going to be released back out into our community, the skills they need to do this as a career when they are released,” said Dee Hoult with Magic City K9.

Around 100 rescue dogs pass through the prison yearly, where inmates train them for up to four months. The dogs are then adopted out.

“It really does help them open up, learn to be a little less guarded, learn to have more fun, and feel more confident in themselves that they can learn to train a dog,” said Hoult.

It’s a program that provides a tangible skill, along with some emotional support to inmates who want another shot. The dogs are clearly happy, and they’ll also get another chance at life.

“It taught me to look at things differently,” said inmate Chris Herr. “I was very big on saying ‘no’ and finding fault in things. Now that I’m with the dogs, I’m looking for reasons to praise, reasons to reward.”

For more information on adopting the dogs from this program, visit Magic City K9′s website by clicking here.

About the Author:

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.