Paroled Pups Program
SIOUX FALLS ,S.D.- Some dogs have a difficult time being adopted from the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society because of behavioral issues. So they’re put on “parole” so to speak and sent somewhere where they can receive the extra care and attention they need.
They spend some time at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. Five inmates are a part of the Paroled Pups Program. They’ve received training, so they can spend time training the dogs until they’re ready to be adopted.
“These gentlemen here have the time to do it and they have the patience to do it,” said Andy Oestreich, Humane Officer for The Sioux Falls Area Humane Society.
“They are investing in these dogs and they do an excellent job.”
Justin Goens has been a dog handler with the Paroled Pups Program for a little over a year.
“We can spend so much time with them, really get to know them, their quirks, what sets them off and adjust their training for that,” said Goens.
The dogs are trained with positive reinforcement using treats, petting and toys. The jobs hard work.
“It can be frustrating some prove more stubborn than others,” said Goens.
However, it’s a great feeling when they start to improve.
“Get some task that you’re trying to teach them and they have their aha moment. That’s quite rewarding to see”.
Thanks to these inmates the dogs find homes and don’t get returned for being out of control. The dogs also help the inmates in return.
“I’ve been locked up for a long time and never responsible for anybody other than myself, so that’s one of the things I really like about it. A little responsibility to help some dogs out that will help people out eventually,” said Goens.
They form a bond with these dogs. Although it’s hard to say goodbye, in the end they say it’s worth it.
The dogs live in a kennel at the prison. Many of the paroled pups end up being adopted by someone from the prison staff as they interact with the dogs daily. Over 300 pups have gone through the program since 2004.