Dogs learn obedience from McNaughton Correctional Center inmates Submitted: 08/19/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

Photos By Shardaa Gray

LAKE TOMAHAWK - Animal shelters need all the help they can get placing pets with families in the community.

A Northwoods humane society has found that help from a couple of inmates.

It's not every day inmates hear panting at the McNaughton Correctional Center.

"I can't quite put my finger on it, but it seems a lot less like an institution and more like a town, let's say. The attitudes reflect that." said McNaughton Correctional Center Superintendent, Brad Koshbab.

"I couldn't ever imagine having a dog program like this in a prison setting," said McNaughton House Inmate, Stewart Gasper.

"Here it is. It's great."

The correctional center recently teamed up with the Oneida County Humane Society to start a dog program called New Beginnings.

Six dogs are brought in for a six week training at the facility.

"We're teaching these dogs basic commands so that they can find a good home," inmate, John Rassbach said.

"When they do get to a good home, they'll know how to act and not be chewing things up. And just learning how to behave in a normal environment."

Some of the dogs that come in don't always have the best background.

Two year old Bea was starved.

"You can see the change just the brief time that they're here just to go from maybe anti-social animal, to the outgoing, more loving," said inmate Joseph Athans.

"Like Bea, who you seen earlier. She was more skidish and stuff and now she's already opened up in a few days."

Getting these dogs ready for adoption often means teaching obedience and social skills.

That usually requires a lot of patience.

"They all need to be loved and cared for and they do need a very good home to go to," Rassbach said.

"That's what they need and that's what they're here for."

"You learn how to nurture an animal and be loving, kind, considerate, a provider and care giver." Gasper said.

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