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Fifteen firefighters have seven dogs at the firehouse going through the Pups On Parole program.

By Lt. Charlene Billings, AA/PIO
California Correctional Center

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Lucy and her handler, inmate Hall. The two developed a strong bond so Hall’s parents adopted Lucy.

California Correctional Center (CCC) and Lassen Humane Society celebrated the adoption of their 500th dog, named Lucy, from the Pups on Parole (POP) program and Lassen County Animal Shelter. The success of this program has benefited the community, inmates and dogs.

Inmates in the program say it gives them a sense of purpose, pride and duty by giving them the opportunity to participate in the daily responsibilities of caring for, socializing and training the dogs.

Lucy is the 500th lucky dog to be adopted from POP. Upon her introduction into the program Lucy met her handler, inmate Hall. Despite being a first-time trainer, he and Lucy soon built a strong bond. Lucy’s personality and the bond between the two were so remarkable, inmate Hall’s parents decided to adopt Lucy to be sure she would be reunited with him upon his release.

During the celebration, CCC Warden Suzanne Peery, CDW S. Cagle, and POP liaison Rikki Meier presented LHS with a check for $180.89 raised by CCC inmates to support the program.

What is Pups on Parole?

The Pups on Parole program began at CCC in 2007 when Lassen Humane Society President Mary Morphis and CCC Warden Kathy Prosper collaborated to initiate the program. Warden Prosper was enthusiastic to be involved in the POP program at the institution, ensuring a stable foundation for a successful operation from the very start.

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Inmates train and care for the dogs until they are adopted.

Morphis was very passionate about saving dogs housed in overcrowded shelters, she had witnessed many beautiful dogs euthanized and determined she would save the lives of as many dogs as she could.

After touring the POP program at San Quentin State Prison, Morphis and Warden Prosper quickly developed a similar program at CCC.

The POP program is comprised of many entities including the Lassen Humane Society, Lassen County Animal Shelter and CCC staff and inmates. The animal shelter receives dogs and determines their suitability for the POP program based on their temperament, character, and potential to be euthanized. This is a crucial part of the process ensuring the success of the program.

The humane society oversees the POP program and Coordinator Vicky Reinsel ensures POP is functioning well and addresses any concerns that arise. She takes great pride in the success rate of POP dogs adopted into good homes and spends her free time conducting fundraisers for food and other supplies for the dogs.

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CCC has a dog obstacle course.

POP Liaison Rikki Meier supervises inmates while they train the dogs in preparation for adoption. She was so inspired by the program that she commissioned a dog training agility course at CCC.

Fifteen Inmates and seven dogs are currently housed at the CCC Firehouse with one handler each and a backup handler for unexpected absences.

The inmates have completed Physical Fitness Training, Fire Fighter Training, and retain fire-fighting duties by providing mutual aid to Lassen County Fire and Medical Emergency Services.

For many inmates, this program teaches how to be responsible for another’s needs and provides a sense of accomplishment when the dogs are successfully rehabilitated, well-trained, and adoptable.

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Lucy checks out the cake.