A Second Chance for Inmates and Death Row Dogs
At an Ohio correctional facility, a new dog-fostering program teaches valuable skills to outgoing inmates—who in turn give down-on-their-luck dogs a new leash on life.
Photo & video by Isaac Hale
In a small grassy yard surrounded by high chain-link fences and spirals of barbed wire, a handful of men play with dogs. They play fetch and run the dogs around the yard to tire them out, their day’s worth of pent-up energy making the dogs difficult to command.
“Beeson, stay,” commands Kyle Sweeney, a resident of the Southeastern Probation Treatment Alternative Correctional Facility (SEPTA), speaking to the youthful male terrier mix in front of him. Beeson, a mutt peppered with gradients of light orange, black and white fur, protests with a shrill whimper. “Stay,” asserts Sweeney, whose right lower leg is embellished with a tattoo of a crawling black and red scorpion. This time his command is effective.
The sounds of this exchange blend with the clamor of other men working excitable dogs. Because they have already had a long day’s work or attended instructional classes, the men aren’t nearly as fresh as the dogs now getting their first chance to play. Despite …