‘Home for Hounds’ Pairs Inmates and Shelter Dogs

A group of Dallas County inmates have found a new purpose in life as they work to help save the lives of dozens of shelter dogs.

It’s a part of the Homes for Hounds program, which pairs Dallas County inmates with the Grand Prairie Animal Shelter. It is the first such program in a county jail in the state of Texas.

The dogs are brought into the jail and are trained by the inmates.

“They stay in the jail 24 hours a day- 7 days a week,” Laura Zavala with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said. “They sleep in the actual pod with the inmates."

Ten inmates work with five dogs getting the dogs ready for a chance to be adopted.

“[They are] targeted dogs that don't do as well in a shelter environment,” Grand Prairie Animal Shelter manager Lily Yap said.

It is a mutually beneficial partnership for the dogs and the inmates.

“With me being here in the Dallas County jail is a similar situation - a second opportunity. A second chance at life,” inmate Kevin Smith said when the program launched in 2017.

The inmates get job and personal skills that could help keep them out of jail when released.

"It teaches them a lot of patience, because when it comes to training that is one thing that they always mention that they learn," Zavala said.

Inmates will be able to get jobs in animal care or even at an animal shelter.

The inmates make instant but lasting connections with the dogs they train.

“You'll see big grown men cry when dogs are leaving and that's just amazing,” Zavala said.

The group hopes to expand the program to include female inmates in the future.

ONLINE: Adopt a dog by visiting Home for Hounds.

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