GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Sheriff Butch Conway started Operation Second Chance in February 2010 in an effort to reduce the euthanasia rate of unwanted dogs in the county. Partnering with Dennis Kronenfeld, founder of Society of Humane Friends of Georgia, the program began rescuing dogs that were nearing their expiration date at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter.
The rescued dogs live at the jail with non-violent inmates who care for and train the dogs until they are adopted into suitable homes. Volunteer trainers, groomers and other animal experts visit the unit regularly, teaching the inmates how to properly care for and train the dogs utilizing positive reinforcement training techniques.
Operation Second Chance has rescued more than 300 dogs to date. In October 2013, cats were added to the program, allowing female inmates to participate in animal rescue and resulting in the rescue of over 40 cats.
In addition to the obvious benefits to the dogs and cats, Operation Second Chance benefits the inmates who participate by providing them the opportunity to be responsible, goal oriented and to achieve success with the dogs that they train. Many inmates have left incarceration with the intention of pursuing a career that involves working with animals. “I hope the positive reinforcement training techniques they learned at the jail and the patience required to train abused and neglected animals will help them become better citizens,” says Sheriff Conway.
“I cannot thank our program supporters enough for their encouragement. We couldn’t do it without them,” said Sheriff Conway.
Operation Second Chance is supported by volunteers and donations, not tax dollars. It is frequently visited by sheriff’s offices across the country who are interested in joining the animal rescue effort and creating a similar program in their own jails.
To learn more about Operation Second Chance, please visit www.jaildogs.org. You can also follow them on Facebook at Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program.