ECSO and SPCA Team Up To Introduce Inmate Rehabilitation Program “PUPS AT THE PEN”

Modified: July 12, 2016 10:33am

Latest News

For news from other years, please click on one of the following links:


Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and SPCA Executive Director Gary Willoughby announced today the creation of a new inmate rehabilitation program at the Erie County Correctional Facility – “Pups at the Pen.”  This new program establishes a partnership between the two organizations that will bring new hope for inmates and sheltered dogs as well as training for their new lives. 


The Erie County Sheriff’s Office approached the SPCA Serving Erie County about this program in February 2016 and immediately each organization was excited about the new partnership.  This program will pair selected female inmates with adoption candidates for six to seven weeks.  During this time the inmates will train the dogs, help with socialization skills, and provide care and attention throughout the program.   The dogs will live with the inmates in the housing area and the teams will utilize parts of the facility for training, socializing, and recreation.


Sheriff Timothy Howard explains, “This new partnership brings an entirely new opportunity to the correctional facility and introduces the inmates to a program that will be beneficial to them and the dog.  The inmates and dogs will be inseparable during the length of the program with the dogs sleeping in the housing unit and interacting with everyone in the housing area.”


The SPCA will select canine candidates for the program that may need extra attention or have special needs and work with the inmates to teach the dogs proper behavior and socialization skills to ultimately prepare the dogs for adoption.


"We're thrilled to be partnering with members of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office on this program, new for our area," says SPCA Executive Director Gary Willoughby. "There are some dogs surrendered to our shelter who are wonderful adoption candidates, yet they cannot immediately handle some stressors of shelter living. Their needs sometimes surpass what we can provide here. Not only do we hope this program has a positive effect on inmates at the correctional facility, but one of our goals in participating is providing our special-needs animals with the socialization, attention, and training that may be necessary for them to be adopted more quickly once returned to the shelter. This program could make the difference for many dogs in helping them adapt to shelter living, even for a short period of time." 


The progress of the dogs and when they will be available for adoption can be viewed on the SPCA’s website, Facebook page and other social media outlets.


“The goal of this program is to provide new skills to the inmates and the dogs while preparing both for a new life,” said Sheriff Howard.  “If one inmate learns skills for a new job and one dog is adopted, then our efforts are all worth it.”


The SPCA Serving Erie County will provide food, veterinarian care, sleeping crates, and training throughout the program and every two months, new dogs will be introduced to the program.