The New Leash on Life Program at the Minimum Custody Unit in Morganton is a joint venture
between the prison and Burke County Friends For Animals. Friends For Animals chooses the
dogs for the training program (3 at any given time), and they provide all food and veterinary
care. The dogs are housed at the prison and the prison provides the inmates who are
responsible for the complete care of the dogs as well as the training. The dogs are taught good
manners, basic obedience and also agility, using positive reinforcement techniques including
clicker training. The duration of the training is normally 8 weeks, but sometimes longer
depending on the needs of the dogs. At the end of the training period, the dogs are adopted
and go to their new homes.
This is an extremely rewarding program. The dogs are often rambunctious teenagers in
desperate need of training, or ones that have been at the shelter for many months and need an
extra boost to get adopted. The trainers learn a very valuable skill which helps open doors for
them to get jobs when they complete their sentences. Everybody wins, including the new
owners who have a well trained new member of their family.