Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Inmates training strays for adoption

By Huang Hsin-po and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Police dog trainers in Hsinchu have for the past 12 years been training stray dogs for adoption with the help of Hsinchu Prison inmates.

The program not only takes stray animals off the streets, but teaches inmates the value of life, which is helpful to their rehabilitation, the trainers said.

A total of 52 inmates have participated in the program and trained 73 dogs, the trainers said, adding that the dogs that went through the program all became smarter and more friendly toward people.

“What is even more impressive is that 46 of the inmates who participated in the program and who had been released from prison have not committed an offense since their release,” they said.

A similar program is also used in the US, where it has also been successful, and was the subject of a documentary film made for Animal Planet in 1996, former prison warden Huang Jung-jui (黃榮瑞) said.

Huang, who is now retired, was responsible for introducing the program at the prison on Nov. 16, 1996.

Huang still volunteers for the program, saying he hopes that the inmates and strays can discover the value of life together.

There are eight strays at the prison going through the program, with trainer Chen Chu-lung (陳鉅龍) holding classes with inmates every Thursday.

The dogs are mostly about one year old, which Chen said is when training is most likely to succeed, and are provided by the Wang Wang Stray Animal Association.

The program has also been praised for not relying on government funding, as dog food is procured through donations and the trainers are volunteers, Chen said.

One former inmate, who goes by the pseudonym A-wei (阿偉), said he had always done poorly at school and was scolded by his teachers.

He felt abandoned by society, but the program taught him patience and how to care for others, he said, adding that he came to understand that he could be useful to society by changing himself.

“Strays and dogs that are cared for are separated by a thin line. The only difference between them is whether they are considered useful to people,” he said.

The program gave him a new understanding of life, he added.

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