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A new program that allows inmates to train dogs in order to save their lives and find them permanent homes began February 16, 2010 at the Gwinnett County Jail.Sheriff Butch Conway conceived the idea after looking at the staggering number of animals that are being put down in Gwinnett County for lack of resources to save them. He believed his department could make a difference not just in the life of these dogs, but in the life of our inmate population.

While there are some prisons that operate dog programs across the nation, we may be the first jail in the country to have such a program. Operation Second Chance is designed to place a dog with two inmates. The dog is pulled from the euthanasia line at Gwinnett Animal Control by the Society of Humane Friends and brought to the Gwinnett County Jail.

Once here, the dogs will reside with the inmates chosen to work with them and those inmates will train them in basic obedience. They also will learn to groom and care for the animals. Not only is the dog getting a second chance, but the inmates are learning valuable social and vocational skills that will help them become more productive citizens once they are released from jail. Hopefully, those inmates involved in the program will not return to jail again once they are released.

This is a program I knew could work here, said Sheriff Conway. I knew we could make a difference not just for the dogs, but for the inmates as well. We will be the first jail in Georgia and possibly the country to do a program like this. I believe in the end we will save many lives and the inmates who are part of the program will be dramatically changed for the better.

The program is at no cost to the taxpayers of Gwinnett County. The care, food, training and vet services for the dogs are all being provided through volunteers and the Society of Humane Friends. The dogs are placed for adoption through the Society of Humane Friends.

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