In the County of Marin, some animals that are stigmatized because they are pit bulls are given a second chance.
Mack is one of those dogs. He was afforded the opportunity to be trained and prepared for adoption through the Pen Pals program—a 14-year alliance between San Quentin State Prison and the Marin Humane Society. The program connects dogs with behavioral problems and nonviolent prisoners who want to care for them, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
Twice a week, Pen Pal volunteers provide training for the incarcerated men and help them learn to work with the canines. Dogs like Mack are kept night and day with SQ inmates until they become suitable pets for adoption. The prisoners also care for dogs that receive medical attention from Marin Humane veterinarians—those dogs that require physical rehabilitation and/or medication on a routine basis.
Participants in the program believe the process is profoundly therapeutic for dogs and humans alike at San Quentin.
According to the Marin Independent Journal, a special bond is forged between each dog and prisoner, and it gives inmates the chance to nurture living creatures who need help. And, of course, the presence of the pooches provides daily fun and excitement—a much needed relief from the rigors of incarceration.
Contrary to negative beliefs about pit bulls, Mack is just the opposite. Mack is a 3-year-old fun-loving pooch who came to Marin Humane Society as a stray. To better his chance for adoption into a permanent home, the Pen Pals team intervened and situated Mack with one-on-one, 24/7 love and attention at SQ. Jeremy, the inmate put in charge of Mack’s socialization training, forged a lasting connection with the pet.
Under the guidance of the Pen Pals volunteers, Jeremy trained Mack in all of the fundamentals of good canine behavior.
After several weeks of training, Mack appeared to be ready for a stable home. He was taken back to the shelter but showed signs of separation anxiety, according to the article. The Pen Pals staff figured that Mack should return to the prison to help work through what they viewed could be an impediment to adoption.
After a happy reunion, Jeremy gave Mack equal doses of behavior training and love. And eventually, Mack became suitable for adoption, demonstrating the success of the Pen Pal program formula. Not long after, a man and his son saw Mack’s photo on the Marin Humane Society website, “fell in love,” and ad- opted him, according to the article.
The Pen Pals program continues to facilitate productive relationships built on love between San Quentin inmates and dogs who get a second chance to find a forever home.