BEATTYVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - The euthanasia rate at one eastern Kentucky animal shelter is declining, thanks in part to a group of people that most of society has written off.
Old dogs may not be able to learn new tricks. But they can learn from inmates at the CCA Lee Adjustment Center.
"We just apply some basic manners and hand signals like sit, down and stay," inmate/trainer Michael Lewis said. "Those are some of the most important hand signs, especially if you're from a rural area and you allow your dog to go off the leash. It's real important you have control of your animal."
Some of the dogs were within hours of being euthanized at the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter in Perry County because they were too aggressive and unruly to be adopted.
"All of these animals are so close to death," said Tammy Noble, the shelter board chairwoman. "So the guys (at the jail) just work with them and it's a huge opportunity and great resource for our animal shelter."
After six to eight weeks, the dogs are suitable for someone to take home.
The inmates usually handle about one dozen dogs at a time. They have trained more than 650 dogs since the program began in 2005.
The animal shelter's euthanasia rate has dropped 22% from 2011 - a time span that includes the beginning of the partnership with the inmates.
They get pretty attached to the canines, too.
"I've got three years left (on sentence) and I'm all done," inmate/trainer Richard Gero said. "I'd rather just stay here with the dogs than even go back to my home state."