Program matches stray dogs with inmates for rehabilitation

Inmates will keep and train the dogs until they are ready for adoption.

HENDERSON, Texas — A partnership you’ve probably never heard of is in the works. “PAWSitive Change” is a program that provides intense rehabilitation and matches stray dogs with inmates.

Rusk County Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez said inmates at Billy Moore Correctional Facility will guard and train the dogs until they are ready for adoption.

“One benefit is being able to help rehabilitate inmates as well. So, you know, they both get something out of it,” said Charissa Pool, director of the Henderson Animal Center.

Pool said it was a win-win that helped solve Henderson’s stray dog ​​problem.

Henderson Animal Center has the capacity to house 17 dogs, but on Friday staff had to make room for 36 dogs.

Pool said the program couldn’t come at a better time. Overcrowding is also a growing problem.

“It’s bad,” Pool said. For the past few years, we’ve had to deal with a less than optimal pandemic situation, and you know, people are losing their jobs. Their health is declining [and] the economic situation also affects what people have to offer these pets.

The Rusk County budget will foot the $25 bill for each dog’s veterinary checkup.

“It’s going to be a constant revolving door where we can do up to 10 dogs at a time,” Valdez said.

After the 2-4 week program, the dogs are paired with their furry families.

August is “Clear the Shelter” month at the Henderson Animal Center. Until the end of the month, all adoption fees for cats and dogs are waived.