Oklahoma correctional center graduates first class of inmate-trained dogs

The first class of dogs to go through the new inmate-driven dog training program at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud graduated Friday. The dogs left the women’s prison with their new adopted families.
by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: April 21, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: April 20, 2014

Lady, a small white Maltese rescued from a puppy mill, had spent the past three months locked up at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, but Friday she was welcomed into the arms of her new adopted family, among the first class of the prison’s new inmate-driven dog training program.

When Lady first arrived at the women’s facility in January she was so frightened of people she could not leave her kennel without shaking in fear. But, the small dog panted happily as her new owner, Ashley Smith, of Oklahoma City, took Lady from Sarah Ganis, the inmate who trained her. Ganis offered Smith advice on how to care for Lady as she said goodbye to the dog she had shared a cell with for a few months.

Ganis, 34, who is serving a lengthy sentence for child neglect, told The Oklahoman in January she was hopeful the program would offer her a chance to give back to society. Ganis shed a tear as she handed Lady to Smith, but giving up something you love is part of life behind bars.

Luckily, Ganis will have the opportunity to train a new dog, this time all on her own. The dog training program at Mabel Bassett allows a small group of inmates with track records of good behavior while incarcerated the opportunity to train canines obedience and for life as companion animals for the elderly. In the first class, two inmates trained each dog. For the second class, each inmate will receive their own animal to work with, six in total.

by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch he went on to cover the Oklahoma Senate for eCapitol before joining the...
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