CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - No bones about it, Operation New Hope has been called a success.
The program has been partnering shelter dogs with inmates for nearly 10 years. Watching both of them transform - and now it’s ready for an expansion.
At one point Mistletoe was so anxious she’d hardly walk, but that’s all changed.
“He’s great, he loves people, he loves running, he loves to play, but at first he wouldn’t even come out of his cage,” said Monika Jones, Inmate.
Mistletoe and Monika were paired up through the Chatham County Jail’s Operation New Hope. It lets low offender inmates train dogs that are thought unadoptable.
The dogs stay in the cells with the women and their training is 24-7 nonstop.
“A lot of folks do not know how to fix or potty train a dog so if we can do that here at Operation New Hope then we just saved a life and now when the adopter comes to adopt that dog we can say ‘hey, this is how we did it the dog is 100% potty trained, crate trained and an AKC-kanine good citizen,’" said Jennifer Messer, Coordinator of Operation New Hope. "They should be able to go into the community with having no problem.”
The program not only helps local dogs, but also their trainers. It provides hope.
“It gives me a lot of confidence. It shows me that I can do things that I never thought that i could do as long as I put my mind to it and it give me a lot of reentry skills that I need to enter back out into the community and it gives me a second chance which is what our motto is,” said Jones.
Operation New Hope has an adoption rate of nearly 100 percent and they are looking to expand. They’re still working out details, but they’ll go from training 10 dogs to 32 dogs and add male inmates as trainers. For local rescue organizations this program saves lives.
“These ladies deserve a second chance and these dogs help them have that second chance," said Jennifer Taylor, Director of Renegade Paws Rescue. "And the dogs deserve a second chance these dogs don’t deserve to be euthanized or anything like that. I think maybe in a lot of ways the dogs and the inmates are the same.”
These dogs will graduate and be up for adoption on Feb. 1.