Inmates work to save death row dogs

Inmates at Northward Prison will become pet owners as part of a new program designed to teach compassion and save stray dogs from being euthanized. 

Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service will work with the Department of Agriculture to host the “Bonding and Rehabilitation through K-9s” program, known as BARK. Stray dogs will be housed at the prison for inmates to train, explained program founder Juliette Heath. 

Ms. Heath said the program would save dogs on “death row” at the Department of Agriculture. Unwanted, abandoned and stray dogs are kept at the department’s kennels and put down if no one claims or adopts them.  

Ms. Heath said the program would help reduce the number of dogs at the Department of Agriculture that are put down each year, currently numbering between 800 and 1,000. 

The program will also help inmates learn life skills and enable them to develop relationships with the animals, Ms. Heath said. 

- Advertisement -

As part of the program, three dogs will live at the prison for a 12-week period and work with inmates and dog trainer Kenneth Morgan.  

Once the course is completed, the dogs will be put up for adoption in the community. 

Dogs will remain at the prison under the care of the inmates until they wThe inmates involved in the program are Leighton Rankine, Kurt Ebanks, Christopher Miles, Kurtny Johnson, Henricho Swaby and Michael Levitt. 

“The dogs can turn people’s lives around. It’s such a win-win situation,” Ms. Heath said. 

“Seeing the inmates interact with them is quite incredible. It’s really nice to see how encouraged they are by it,” she added. 

Each dog will be named by the inmates. The first dog has been named Aliyah. 

Mr. Morgan said the program would save the lives of stray dogs and would also teach the inmates to be kind and be patient.  

“We are getting the inmates to really care about the dogs,” Mr. Morgan said. “Generally, people who love animals are more gentle.  

“It will help them to adapt back into the community, and they will learn how to talk to people.” 

Mr. Morgan will teach the group how to instruct basic commands, and the dogs will also complete agility training.  

Dogs will be housed in a kennel at the prison. 

To donate food, toys, bedding or funds for veterinary needs, phone 929-7772 or email [email protected] 

Bark

Inmates with the first dog to enter the prison, Aliyah, and BARK program founder Juliette Heath.
- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now

1 COMMENT

  1. Finally!!! I’ve been a proponent of this plan from before Hurricane Ivan. This programme began in the US, Nevada prisons were used to rehabilitate dogs horses on the ranches there. Dogs needed to be able to work be around horses horses needed rehabilitation to be tolerant to dogs. The graduates from the project were then sent to the other programme for indoctrination eventual adoption. It has been one of the most successful ideas for rehabilitation for both animals inmates yet! We were hoping this would have led to an emergency animal shelter during hurricanes. We even had the building, but alas government dropped the ball. I’m so glad this is getting off the ground Kenneth is the perfect person to see this through! Best of luck to all involved please donate, contribute be supportive to the cause in any way possible! It is a very worthy cause!