“The Dogs of Lexington,” which airs at 9:45 p.m. Thursday on OETA, documents the triumphs and successes found inside the Friends For Folks program at Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, the medium-security prison outside Lexington. The film, which was shown at the deadCenter Film Festival in June after several private screenings, begins with a quote from Sister Pauline Quinn, the Dominican nun who founded the first prison-dog program in Washington state: “Want unconditional love? God. Dog.”
“She got the idea when she was a little homeless girl — not when she was Sister Pauline Quinn,” said Greg Mellott, the Oklahoma City Community College film professor who directed “The Dogs of Lexington. “It's the idea of being ‘other-centered.'”
The project began when Louisa McCune-Elmore, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, was discussing animal welfare in Oklahoma with former Oklahoma Secretary of State Susan Savage, who suggested she meet with Friends For Folks veterinarian Dr. John Otto. McCune-Elmore arranged a lunch with Otto and Marvin Perry, a former trainer at LARC who was paroled in 2008 thanks to Otto's efforts, and became fascinated by Perry's story of redemption. She convinced Otto that the documentary, which was funded by the Kirkpatrick Foundation, could be a great form of outreach.
“Even if you just kind of like dogs, even if you're sort of a dog person, you instantly fall in love with this program,” McCune-Elmore said. “It's the ultimate redemption tale. It's castaway animals and castaway humans together for a win-win-win situation.”
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