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Prison System’s ‘New Leash On Life’ Program Continues To Change Lives

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Cell mates Jamal Thompson (right) & Domonic Hayes (left) trained Hershey (credit: John McDevitt)

Cell mates Jamal Thompson (right) & Domonic Hayes (left) trained Hershey (credit: John McDevitt)

By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A special program where prisoners in Philadelphia train and rehabilitate shelter dogs to become more adoptable while living with the animals in their cells for 11 weeks continues to change lives, both human and canine.

The Philadelphia Prison systems introduced “The New Leash on Life” program in August of 2011. Since that time 52 inmates and 28 dogs graduated from the program.

Cell mates Dominic and Jamal trained Hershey.

“You know we are saving a life but he is saving our life too,” Jamal said. “Because we are both helping each other.”

“I never though I could tell a dog to sit or stay and watch,” Dominic said, as he gave commands to Hersey. “I never though I could do that, and it taught me patience.”

The inmates get paid internships and used the experience for a resume builder as they get ready to re-enter society.

The animals get canine good citizenship certificates. “Mike” the pitbull, one of the dogs graduating Wednesday, will go on for further training to become a service dog.

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