LEA COUNTY, N.M. - Lea County inmates are getting the opportunity to train dogs. It's part of a program called "Second Chance Prison Pups."
The Lea County Correctional Facility partnered with the Hobbs Animal Adoption Center, allowing prisoners to take puppies, train them and give them back to the community.
The Program Coordinator, Lieutenant Sexton, said, "It gives them a companion, it gives them a responsibility, it gives them something to do, a job. It gives a lot of different things that they normally wouldn't get, especially the guys that are never going home."
The Lea County Correctional Facilities Senior Warder, Jeff Wrigley, said, "They get a real warm sense out of it, both with the pet and doing something real positive, in which they know they are giving back to the community."
The program has been in the works for seven months and was launched on Tuesday. The facility wanted to make sure the dogs were safe by having inmates go through a lengthy screening. The program director says she has received over 200 applications but narrowed it down to just 25 inmates that can be a part of the program. The qualifications were based off of their offense history and good conduct.
Inmate Gary Silva, said, "It's great having a dog. When you're doing a sentence, like I'm doing a pretty long sentence myself. But the way I'm looking at it, is it's good to give back to the community."
"It's just something easy for people to learn how to do and when they get out, they can have a career doing what they are doing in here, if they want to," said Eddie Richmond, an inmate at the Lea County Correctional Facility.
The program was developed to have inmates teach the dogs basic commands like how to sit, stay or roll over, so they can be well behaved when they arrive to their new home.
Ernest Leyba, an inmate, said, "There's going to be three or four commands that we teach them over the next two to four months. This one is pretty smart, Moose is smart. He already sits and gives me his ball."
In the last 24 hours, the inmates have already seen a positive change in their ward and they feel privileged to have this opportunity.
"Having her in my life right now is just spectacular, I never thought that I would be able to have a dog in prison, much less be able to be around a dog within the next 12 years," said inmate Jerry Olguin.