GDC Journal_Jan 2023 | Page 5

The Georgia Department of Corrections ( GDC ) established animal care programs to provide offenders with the education and training necessary to facilitate employment and a successful return to the community . Offenders are given the opportunity to learn teambuilding skills , caring for others , and on-the-job training for animal grooming .
The agency hosts 15 canine programs ranging from foster and rescue to guide dog training , veteran dog training , and detection dogs . Canines participating in Vapor Wake programming learn to detect explosives , and offenders reinforce the dogs ’ track-and-reward behavior . In the guide dog program , the animals learn to assist the visually impaired or disabled in gaining more independence and freedom , while giving the offenders a great sense of accomplishment . The foster and rescue training programs help increase animal adoptions , and the number of therapy and service animals benefits the communities and individuals requiring their specialized services .

Dogs themselves are the catalyst for most of the programs . They teach unconditional love .

Diane Hassett , Animal Program Director
Socializing with a friendly , happy dog is therapeutic for offenders and staff alike . In addition to hands-on skills , the men and women participating in the animal care programs learn a sense of responsibility . Offenders can earn certifications in dog grooming , animal caretaking , and animal training . Graduates of the program have worked for animal shelters , veterinarian clinics , dog grooming salons , and other service dog schools .
January 2023 | GDC Journal 5