Melissa Ripley - Second Chance Pups

Melissa Ripley, a Second Chance pups trainer and adoption coordinator, helps one of the program's canines. 

A program called Second Chance Pups, now in its 15th year in partnership with the Nebraska State Penitentiary, is beneficial for humans and canines alike.

It’s a terrific idea: Inmates selected for the program train dogs that have been taken in by animal shelters and rescue facilities. The canines are vaccinated, groomed, spayed or neutered and micro-chipped. Once the training is completed, the dogs are adopted out. The program recently completed its 50th rotation of dogs.

So far, Second Chance Pups has enabled adoption of more than 450 dogs, and some 350 inmates have helped the creatures.

Anyone who has worked with animals understands how they have the potential to draw out one’s best self. “I like the fact that we can save five or six dogs every few months,” said Robert Dunkin, who has taken part in the program for two years. “Having a dog to wake up to really makes a difference in my mood and has changed my life. It’s well worth it.”

Scott Frakes, director of the Department of Correctional Services, is right that the effect can be “transformational” for participants in the most positive sense. This creative approach to rehabilitation is well deserving of the public’s salute.

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