Susan Jacobs-Meadows had a dream – creating a program that would bring unwanted dogs together with incarcerated men. Canine CellMates is the result, a non-profit that pairs canines rescued from local shelters with inmates at Georgia’s Fulton County Jail.
During the program, the dogs live in the jail, assigned to inmates who care for their charges, and teach them obedience skills. But it’s not just the pups that gain new skills; their handlers learn to set goals and work toward specific objectives. Along the way, they also experience the joy of unconditional love from their canine partners and the unyielding support of the volunteers with Canine CellMates.
“Graduating” from the Canine CellMates program is just the beginning. The non-profit works to place every newly trained dog in a loving, forever home. As for the men, the program includes an “aftercare” component, offering them support upon their release. “We tell them that we are their family for as long as they want us to be – to help, support, listen and be proud of them,” Susan explains.
Canine CellMates wouldn’t exist without Susan and her team of dedicated volunteers, but she insists the animals are the real heroes: “These dogs are catalyst for change.”