The WOOF Program is an 8-week canine “training” course located inside the Work Camp at Lowell Correctional Institution. Started in May of 2011 and under the direction of Julie Sanderson, the WOOF Program has placed over 150 homeless dogs into loving forever homes.
How does it work?
WOOF Program candidates are typically dogs who have an exceptionally long length-of-stay at one of our rural shelter partners’ facilities. Sometimes these dogs may be there for months, and even over a year. Although handlers in the WOOF program will teach dogs Sit, Stay, Down, Leave It, and will teach them how to walk nicely on leash, these are never a guarantee and are not the purpose of the program; rather, the program offers much needed reprieve for the dogs who have not had enough enrichment at large shelters and who are suffering from stress in those shelters. The program is an opportunity for the dogs and women to develop a bond and have a positive experience. At the end of their training, dogs in the WOOF program will test to receive their AKC Canine Good Citizenship certificate. To learn more about meeting and potentially adopting a WOOF Dog, you can apply at www.hailesangels.org/adopt or see updates on the WOOF Facebook page.
How does this program help the community?
Not only does the WOOF Program help dogs that are overlooked and not thriving in shelters, it is also a re-entry program for the trainers. While working in the WOOF Program, the handlers gain experience with not only canine handling and care, but public speaking, time management, and working in groups. Eligibility is based on charges—the program will not accept violent offenders or offenders with crimes involving children.
Do the dogs live in a cell?
No. At the work camp the dogs and inmates are housed in a cottage-like dorm, with four inmates and two dogs per room (these rooms do not have doors but instead a baby gate for in-room play times). Dogs are kenneled next to their trainers during the night and/or when their trainer is participating in group training activities such as watching training videos, completing group assignments, etc. They have a play yard, training room, and agility equipment to ensure that the selected dogs have ample enrichment.