Friday was probation day for 13 four-legged inmates and a three-legged dog from Lakeland Corrections in Coldwater.
The program was developed between Prison and Refurbished Pets of Southwest Michigan over a decade ago. Even after a year of COVID-19 infections, which were particularly severe in prison, precautions were taken and the training program continued without any problems.
After 10 weeks of training, the dogs were ready to meet their eternal families in Coldwater after being examined for the good of the families and the dogs.
In the parking lot near the RPSM warehouse, everyone turned to see Moose, a Great Dane, step out of the SUV to meet his new parents, Thomas and Kenzie Wooden.
“I’m ready to be a Great Dane mom,” said Kenzie.
The 102-pound puppy bonded with the couple easily. Treats helped as he demonstrated with his simple commands to sit, sit down, and wait.
Her husband’s family has large dogs, including great danes and mastiffs.
RPSM President Michele Frederick said Moose was “a wild man when RPSM took him out of a shelter when he was five months old”. He went to a foster home for five weeks to begin his socialization before joining the Lakeland training program. His feet are bigger than it fits his body, which means he will grow into them.
The Woodens found moose on the Pet Finder website while searching for a Great Dane.
“The adoption route is the route we wanted to go,” said Kenzie. “We found out about the RPSM program what suits us very well. Fortunately, we were the ones who ended up with him. ”
Moose was so popular in Lakeland and loved by his dog handlers that they paid to have a name tag made for his bed. They sent it along with Moose for the Woodens.
Another dog, Driefuss, in this class, was a mixed breed found in the middle of nowhere and taken to the Elkhart Human Society animal shelter in Indiana.
“He was scared of the world with a broken leg so we decided to help him,” said Frederick. “The leg had to be amputated. He was sent to Lakeland to learn how to handle people and other dogs. “
Shy but lovable, he found a home with a single older man who was perfect for him. When he was released, Driefuss had hardly any problems with humans or other dogs. His only problem came when he tried to lift his sound hind leg to go to the bathroom.
Every dog is provided with a microchip so that it can be returned if it is lost. There is an adoption fee. There are regular veterinary bills as well as discounted fees for special care, which can run into the hundreds for the rescued dogs.
RPSM relies on donations to pay for veterinary supplies, food and other items for the dogs. Gift bags go with the dog, including his towel or “place”. It marks the safe place where it slept every night. So every dog has a familiar smell and objects for its new home.
For more information, visit www.rpsm.org/ or visit the RPSM Facebook page to see the newest group in Lakeland Correction for training, dogs in need of foster care before training or dogs in need of permanent homes search.