Fall 2012 Magazine

Adopt a Dog
Cared For, Loved, and Trained By Women In Prison

By Bay Stevens

These are just a few of the enthusiastic responses we get from families that have adopted Heeling Hearts dogs since 2007 when the program began. It all started when several dedicated members of PB&J Family services decided to expand their existing prison programs with one that could save not one but two lives.

How Heeling Hearts Works
Professional dog trainer Lyn Martin and therapist Susan Neal obtain dogs for qualified in­mates of the Women's Correctional facility in Grants, New Mexico; they continue to work with the women and their dogs until the dogs find their forever homes. The result -

  • Loving, attentive pets for families throughout the region
  • Inmate trainers grateful for the opportunity to "give back" by offering trained dogs for adoption to the community
  • Neglected or unsocialized dogs become healthy and well adjusted pets

When the dogs arrive at the prison, many have experienced abuse, neglect, lack of socialization with other dogs or people, and have had no training. After living with inmate trainers for nine weeks or more, most dogs are able to graduate with the American Kennel Club Certificate of Good Citizenship. What a difference! They are spayed or neutered before being eligible for adoption, and their vaccinations are also up to date.

For incarcerated women, Heeling Hearts attacks a serious problem that has become criti­cal in recent years. The percentage of women entering United States prisons in the last 20 years has increased by almost 400%. Research has shown further that nearly all incarcerated women have had a serious history of trauma or abuse in their lives. As each program trainer works on caring for her dog, she learns to care for herself and others. In the words of one inmate trainer: "To a prisoner who deals with extreme loneliness despite a sea of people (or perhaps because of it) a little companionship is a solace, a healing balm of goodness and friendship. They forgive your transgressions and look lovingly at you when you talk to them. The dogs have touched my heart and spirit in many positive ways and for that I am truly grateful."

As you can see, there is a lot more that goes into the program than a turn-around for strays. Generous support from Dr. Barbara McGuire at Aztec Animal Clinic covers many veterinary fees. The Corrections Corporation of America provides dog food and shelter during their training and transition to adoption. And most important, the professional trainers and staff at PB&J keep Heeling Hearts going and growing. This year we estimate that over 50 lucky families will have a new member like Hooper, Miss Molly, or Luke sharing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Chinese New Year. Yours could be one.

How to Adopt a Heeling Hearts Dog
It is easy to apply to adopt a pet matched to your personality and needs. Start by visiting www.heelingheartsnm.org/HH/Welcome.html and check out the current dogs. Next press the dog paw in the lower right for the adoption questionnaire. When you have completed the form, you can email it to heelinghearts@mac.com or mail it to:

Heeling Hearts
1101 Lopez, SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87105

How to Support Heeling Hearts
If you are interested in helping with a donation, visit www.heelingheartsnm.org/HH/Donate.html. Or join our Heeling Hearts 440 list of champions. If you own a business and would like to establish a relationship with Heeling Hearts, we have several ways you can increase recognition and sales through sponsorships and collaborations with Heeling Hearts/PB&J. Contact Bay Stevens, marketing/outreach coordinator at 505-480-1999 or baysanywhere@gmail.com.

Keep in Touch
Keep current on news, volunteer at an event, lend your talent or tell a friend about Heeling Hearts. Get our latest newsletter by contacting Bay Stevens, PO Box 2066, Tijeras, NM 87509 or by email at baysanywhere@gmail.com.

Bay Stevens is the Advocacy & Community Outreach Director for PB&J's Heeling Hearts project.

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