New Handcuffs to Healing Program Is Making Shelter Dogs More Adoptable and Transforming Lives

Categories: | Author: sheriff sheriff | Posted: 10/5/2017 | Views: 1056

YAPHANK, NY-- The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, along with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, and Michael Gould, President and Founder of Hounds Town Charities, announced a unique initiative help make dogs from the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter more adoptable. 

The program, called Handcuffs to Healing, started in mid-September and will run for 6 consecutive weeks.  The program pairs six shelter dogs with six inmates at the Yaphank Jail for six weeks of intensive canine obedience training.  At the end of the training, the dogs will be ready for adoption. 

The goal of Handcuffs to Healing is also two-fold; the six inmates participating in the program are learning valuable skills which may someday lead to employment in the field.  All are sentenced to county time and considered low risk offenders.  Undersheriff Steven Kuehhas called the initiative a positive experience and stated, “Our goal is to reduce inmate recidivism and programs like these help tremendously.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine made the following statement about the program: “Handcuffs to Healing is a win-win for the inmates, the dogs and the people who adopt them. It’s a very rewarding experience for all involved and I thank Sheriff DeMarco for partnering with the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Hounds Town Charities on this great program.” He also encouraged the public to call the Town Animal Shelter at (631) 451-6950 for more information. 

Michael Gould, the founder of Hounds Town USA, and the charitable organization, Hounds Town Charities, is a former commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Canine Unit and an NYPD canine handler.  He, along with Barbara Dennihy, the New York Director of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), met with Sheriff DeMarco in the spring to pitch the idea of a dog training program for county inmates -- and the Sheriff agreed to run it as a pilot initiative.

The dogs from the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter were selected by Gould with the help of shelter director Ashley Boyd, who was very instrumental in facilitating the process. Dogs had to meet three criteria: they had to be in need of a good home; social with other dogs; and friendly with people. After the six dogs were selected, they were transported to Hounds Town Charities where they stayed for several days before being introduced to the inmates. Throughout the course of the program, the dogs will continue to reside at Hounds Town Charities in Ronkonkoma so they enjoy socialization in a consistent environment. 

Gould made the following statement,I am very grateful to the Suffolk County Sheriff' Office for the opportunity to take this progressive approach to rehabilitating both dogs and humans. The Sheriff’s Office values what we are doing and that is essential to the program's success. The inmates have worked incredibly hard with these dogs and it's heartwarming to see the transformation that both the inmates and the dogs have made over four short weeks."