• 63°

Mutts With Manners has many positive impacts

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

The Mutts With Manners program at Northpoint Training Center is something everyone should know about and all Boyle Countians should be proud of.

This amazing program has paired dogs in need of obedience training with state inmates in need of life training.

The dogs are trained how to behave well and do some pretty neat tricks, making them great, adoptable options for families seeking a four-legged addition at the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society.

The inmates learn to care for and train the dogs. In the process, developing life skills that will help them succeed — both in the jail and when they are released.

Incidents among inmates who are part of the program is “significantly lower,” according to Warden Brad Adams. We would bet that problems among former Mutts With Manners participants are significantly lower outside the jail, as well.

The importance of rehabilitation for prisoners is something society has long overlooked. You can’t just lock someone up for two or five or 10 years and expect them to emerge at the end improved from who they were when they went in. When someone who hasn’t been rehabilitated is released, they’re likely to start committing crimes again.

Without rehabilitation, prison just keeps criminals out of the way for a while; it does nothing to address the underlying cause of crime or benefit the community.

But at prisons like Northpoint, where rehabilitation is taken seriously through numerous efforts, including Mutts With Manners, inmates are more prepared for the real world upon release. They’re taught soft skills that make them more employable. They’re taught budgeting skills that make them more able to deal with and rise out of poverty. And they accomplish real things — like training a good dog so a family can adopt it — that help them appreciate the value of contributing to their community.

This Mutts With Manners program has made life better for so many inmates and dogs — and the families who adopt the dogs — over its 10 years in existence. And now it’s poised to double from its current size and begin a new program aimed at training dogs specifically for veterans in need. It just keeps getting better.

The program also helps strengthen the connections between Northpoint and the Boyle County community. Local volunteers make it all possible. Local families wind up with the dogs.

Community connections help improve Northpoint’s effectiveness in rehabilitation, which in turn improves the prison’s beneficial effects for the community.

The creation of Mutts With Manners was a stroke of genius. It was developed into a wildly successful and thriving program over its first 10 years. We hope it continues for another 10 years, and another 10 after that.