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Partnership pairs shelter dogs with inmates at the Ingham County Jail

Two incarcerated people wearing yellow jumpers sit at the gym of the Ingham County Jail playing with a puppy from the Ingham County Animal Shelter. Both of the people in the photo are African Americans.
Courtesy: Ingham County Sheriff's Office
Two incarcerated people at the Ingham County Jail play with a puppy from the Ingham County Animal Shelter.

The Ingham County Jail is pairing dogs with inmates through a partnership with the local animal shelter.

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth says the New Leash on Life Program gives animals from the Ingham County Animal Shelter an opportunity to be socialized before meeting potential families.

"So it really preps and primes the dog to be in a better position to get adopted. And it brings significant smiles to the faces of the inmates," he said.

Dogs are brought in to spend time with inmates for an afternoon.

"For our people to be able to show a little bit of affection to the dogs who desperately need it. It's a win-win," Wriggelsworth explained.

Although the initiative requires additional personnel, Wriggelsworth says it’s already encouraging inmates to demonstrate good behavior to participate.

"You'd sometimes often say no to a little bit of an extra lift, but we found that the lift is really nominal for us," he said. "And when you talk bang for your buck. This is a win for our staff, our inmates, and the dogs as well."

The program was originally launched two years ago right before the pandemic hit. It’s now being restarted as COVID restrictions are lifted.

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