BOSTON (CBS) — For now, both Richie Velasquez and Jenna live most of their days behind bars. Jenna is a dog in a wire crate. Richie is an inmate.
For several weeks they will live and work together at the Worcester County Jail.READ MORE: Have Extra Towels? MSPCA's Angell Medical Center Seeking Donations For Pet Patients
Project Good Dog, the idea of Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, matches inmates with dogs from a local shelter called Second Chance.
Volunteers at Second Chance teach selected inmates in the work release program how to train dogs. The dogs then spend several weeks living in the cells at the jail with the inmates. All at no cost to the taxpayer.READ MORE: Boston Hospital Networks Announce COVID Vaccine Requirements For Employees
Many dogs once considered “unadoptable” because they’re too aggressive or too shy, leave the jail fully trained and are adopted by families.
Today, some of the 20 shelter dogs who found forever homes thanks to Project Good Dog came back to the jail for a one year anniversary celebration.MORE NEWS: Federal Unemployment Benefits Ending Early In Many States
The Sheriff told us that not only does the program transform the dogs, it does wonders for the inmates too. He says it has made them calmer and more empathetic and that has improved the safety on the cell block in the work release building.