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Dogged Determination, Advocates Mobilize to Salvage Gwinnett County Jail Program

29 Nov 2023, Jail News, by

The Gwinnett County Jail Dogs program, a 13-year initiative connecting inmates with rescue dogs, is at risk of suspension.

Dogged Determination, Advocates Mobilize to Salvage Gwinnett County Jail Program - Inmate Lookup

In the face of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office’s effort for jail improvements for sick inmates, advocates are rallying to preserve the Gwinnett County Jail program, uniting inmates with rescue dogs.

Garnering over 1,000 signatures, an online petition aims to thwart the impending suspension before December 15, with organizers racing against time to find homes for the remaining dogs.

Former Gwinnett County inmate Shane Hawkins, now a professional dog trainer and author, lauds the transformative impact of the Jail Dogs program. Having participated from 2015 to 2018, Hawkins attributes the program to kickstarting his life-altering journey.

The Society of Humane Friends of Georgia has been instrumental for 13 years in developing the program at Gwinnett County Jail, assisting inmates in training rescue dogs for adoption rather than resorting to euthanasia.

Chief Cleo Atwater underscores the necessity for modifications in the unit housing the program. Recent decisions by Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office officials to suspend the program are linked to a 73% surge in inmates with mental health issues.

The current location of the Jail Dogs program, adjacent to the jail hospital, is earmarked for enhancements to better cater to the needs of mentally and chronically ill inmates.

Despite the pending suspension, there remains hope among Hawkins and program supporters for potential relocation or a future revival within Gwinnett County.

The urgency is palpable, as Hawkins highlights the challenges of restarting the program once it has been halted.

Access information about the three dogs still up for adoption in the program through the Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program—Operation Second Chance website.