‘Paws in the Pen’ program continues to see success
ESPAÑOLA, N.M. — The “Paws in the Pen” program has two new graduates – Stevie and Zuzu. The program at the state penitentiary in Santa Fe brings in Española Humane pups to be teamed up with inmates.
Both of the newest graduates came with their challenges. Stevie, the white Corgi, is deaf.
“That took extra talent from his trainer,” said Brittany Roembach with the New Mexico Corrections Department. “Because his trainer had to learn how to use hand signals, and you know, really just tap into Stevie’s senses, rather than, you know, the normal verbal commands that a dog may get.”
As for Zuzu, a brown Puggle – it took some patience to get her to come out of her shell.
“She came to us very timid, and she just blossomed… they both did,” Roembach said.
The Española Humane Society shows inmates how to train dogs.
“For eight weeks, the dogs are with the inmates 24/7,” Roembach said. “They live in their cells with them, they sleep there. It teaches the inmates about responsibility, but also about empathy.”
After the dogs are trained, they’re available for adoption. Both Zuzu and Stevie have already found their forever homes.
Mattie Allen with the Española Humane Society told KOB 4 that Zuzu was adopted by the same family that donates the meals the dogs get during the program.
As for Stevie, his forever family has even learned the hand signals to communicate with him. Plus, he has a big backyard to run around in.
Allen says the shelter is proud of the successful program and says everyone is getting a second chance.
Full statement from Mattie Allen, communications director for Española Humane Society:
“Through our Paws in the Pen program, our shelter underdogs become top dogs through 8 weeks of 24/7 training with their inmate handlers, who are also in training four days per week with our team to be dog trainers.
We are incredibly proud of this successful and mutually beneficial partnership with the New Mexico Department of Corrections and the Penitentiary of New Mexico. Inmates are learning marketable job skills and also life skills – responsibility, patience, interpersonal communication, empathy – while helping us give homeless dogs the leg up they need to be more adoptable. Everyone’s getting a second chance, and the trainers all tell us they feel like the dogs are teaching them more than they could ever teach the dogs.”