BY ANDREA APPEL / AJT //

Operation

A new, innovative program, Fulton County Canine Cellmates, will place dogs with inmates in county jails. The dogs, all from shelters, will be trained and put up for adoption and the inmates learn a trade they can use after their release.

Susan Jacobs-Meadows, an Atlanta resident for more than 20 years and proprietor of Encore Boutique in Sandy Springs, is an animal lover on a mission. She wants to teach all of us about the enormous benefit dogs bring into our lives and the invaluable lessons we can learn from “man’s best friend.”

 

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In 2011, Jacobs-Meadows became aware of Gwinnett County’s highly successful Operation Second Chance, through which county inmates and dogs from the county shelter are matched. The program saves animals from euthanasia – more than 100 since its inception in February 2010 – by allowing inmates to prepare the dogs for adoption with basic obedience training.

As behavior issues are one of the most frequently-cited reasons for relinquishing a pet, the training makes finding a good permanent home for the dogs much more likely, and such a admirable mission and early success convinced Jacobs-Meadows that this was exactly the sort of program Fulton County needed.

To be known as “Fulton County Canine Cellmates,” the new initiative will work will begin with chosen dogs going through a temperament test to qualify. They will then be housed with an inmate for the eight-week course, which allows both man and animal – each of whom have faced isolation and rejection – to come together and provide each other with hope and salvation.

The program will also provide inmates with a new set of skills and the chance to build confidence, knowledge and self-worth as they come away from the program with a trade that will help their transition back into society and, hopefully, the fortitude that will keep them out of jail in the future.

Over the past year, Jacobs-Meadows has laid the groundwork with support from Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson. Personally, I immediately contacted Canine Cellmates after discovering its launch to ask what I could do to help.

Now, as the director of fundraising, I’m excited to have the opportunity to be part of this amazing program. Saving animals while helping individuals discover themselves is incredibly rewarding.

For additional information, visit caninecellmates.org or visit the program’s blog at caninecellmates.wordpress.com. Andrea Appel is a recent graduate of Mercer University with a master’s degree in organizational leadership and now a part of the Canine Cellmates team.

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