Adoptable dogs: Second Chance Pals – GCHS trio in urgent need of ‘forever homes’
By BRIAN WIERIMA
The Second Chance Pals program run by the Gulf Coast Humane Society, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Corrections, is the epitome of a successful two-way street with both sides helping each other.
Each side of the equation is considered hard-luck cases, but it’s a relationship forged to help each other pick themselves back up with love, companionship and a sense of accountability.
In this case, it’s the inmates of the Department of Corrections helping the dogs from GCHS prepare for a hopeful life at a forever home.
In return, the K9s provide a sense of worth and accomplishment to the inmates, while providing companionship and loyalty every dog can provide.
“While the dogs are here, they get the royal treatment,” said Florida Department of Corrections Officer Adela Davis, who runs the program at the DOC facility. “The inmates all absolutely love them. For those 10 to 12 weeks, they become a part of the inmates’ and guards’ lives.
“You see seven-foot, muscle-bound inmates crying at the (dogs’) graduations and I’ve shed a few tears myself.”
The new goal of the program is to not have the graduated dogs come back to the GCHS shelter, so they forget what they were trained for over that time at the DOC facility.
Instead, they will be put into foster care, or better yet, be pre-adopted to a home in which they can go to after graduation.
The first trio to go into this protocol is Caesar, Trixie and Winkie, while the call for their adoptions is urgent, said GCHS’ Director of Volunteer Services Kelly Legarreta.
“These three dogs will make a perfect companion and we will see a 100-percent success rate of adoption,” Legarreta said. “All the dogs which go through the program will get adopted, but our ultimate goal now is for them not to come back to the shelter. Officer Davis has generously provided an extra week for the three to stay at their facility, so we can find these three homes.”
The most huggable and dog which stands out is Winkie, who is a special needs dog. Winkie has been with GCHS since May of 2015 and needs a special home with a constant companion. He is a 4.5 year old pitbull mix.
“Winkie is a phenomenal dog,” Legarreta said. “He would make for a great therapy dog, since he needs constant companionship.”
Trixie is a 3-year-old Plott hound mix and first came to GCHS in June of this year.
Caesar is the longest-term resident at GCHS when he was brought into the shelter on March 29, 2014. He is a 4-year-old Sar-pei mix.
“I have no idea why Trixie and Caesar are still here, they are such wonderful dogs,” Legarreta said. “We want to evolve this program to where we make sure to push them to get adopted and not lose the benefits of what they were trained by the DOC inmates.”
The three dogs’ training will end Wednesday, Nov. 18, and will be then either be brought to foster homes or, better yet, adopted by their forever parents.
But it’s the Second Chance Pals program which is providing extra opportunity for Trixie, Caesar and Winkie.
The chances the inmates provide the dogs by training them the basics of integrating into a home is vital. For many of the dogs who enter the program, it’s their big shot of being adopted after they graduate from it.
“We don’t put dogs in the program if they are highly-adoptable or ones which need 24-hour care,” Legarreta said. “We want ones which will benefit and be fine-tuned by training and shine a light on them if they are being overlooked at the shelter.”
Since GCHS is a no-kill shelter, foster homes will be needed for Second Chance Pal program graduates if need be.
To learn more or to schedule and appointment to meet one of the three dogs up for adoption, or to see the many other dogs and cats GCHS has up for adoption, visit their website at www.gulfcoasthumanesociety.org/ or call 239-332-0364.