This St. Paddy’s Day, we wanted to bring you the story of our own Paddy, a one year old Husky who was seized by Pittsburgh Police as part of an animal cruelty investigation. While the wheels of justice turned in Paddy’s case, she was brought to Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh to be kept safe. As anyone who has met a young Husky can attest, Paddy is a very energetic and smart girl, and she was in need of lots of training, playtime, and exercise in order to have a successful future. We didn’t know how long Paddy was going to need to stay with us, but knew she was going to need lots of attention in order to flourish.

This made Paddy a perfect candidate for a program called Developing Animals with Goals (D.A.W.G.), an effort that rehabilitates animals and incarcerated inmates together through dog training.

D.A.W.G. is a partnership between HARP and State Correctional Institute (SCI) Fayette, where dogs in need of behavioral intervention are sent to live in a cell with carefully-selected caretakers at SCI Fayette. The program brings animals and inmates together for six or more weeks, simultaneously ensuring that the dogs get one-on-one attention and obedience training and giving incarcerated people purpose, new skills, and something to love.

In order to participate in the program, inmates must have exhibited at least one year of good behavior, and must have less than 7 years left in their sentence. Those that are chosen to participate are given a dog to share their cell and regular obedience classes with HARP’s Training and Enrichment team to ensure that they are equipped to give patient, positive, and compassionate handling to their new canine friend.

As pet lovers, we know that animals can transform people. The D.A.W.G. program gives incarcerated people a chance to let their guard down and correct their own behaviors, all while giving a struggling dog love, structure, and the tools they need to be great companions. The benefits of this program are felt by everyone at SCI Fayette; the prison environment is a tough one, and the very presence of a dog can lift everyone’s spirits.

Paddy the Husky is one of two dogs HARP currently has placed in SCI Fayette. At the end of her training program, she will know basic commands like sit, down, and stay, as well as good leash manners. The D.A.W.G. program not only serves the vulnerable prison population, but makes sure that animals with uncertain futures like Paddy will be individually loved and worked with so that they can shine as adoptable pets.

We will keep you updated on Paddy’s story as she proceeds through the program!