By Daryl Conner
“Kristie and I were initially kind of worried when we went to prison,” said pet stylist Emily Rupe. Kristie Kingsland, owner of As the Tail Wags Grooming in Oviedo, Florida, joined Emily in doing some time. But it wasn’t hard time. These two generous ladies volunteered to help out with the Prison Pups n Pals program. Sponsored by the West Volusia Kennel Club, Prison Pups N Pals is a canine obedience program. The program is located at the Tomoka Correctional Institution.
Emily explained, “Promising dogs are taken from Halifax Humane Society, and the prisoners have them living in their cells with them as they train them [in] basic obedience. Once the dogs know some basic obedience, they become more desirable as pets, and their chances of being adopted are increased. They also help train dogs to become narcotic detection animals or even support dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.” These special dogs learn to provide comfort, pick up dropped objects, and assist with tasks such as turning light switches on or off. The dogs are with their inmate trainers for seven weeks. Emily said, “The prison provides inmates with water, the rest of the dogs’ needs come from donations.”
The water provided is not only for drinking. Inmates are responsible for keeping the dogs clean and groomed. That is where Emily and Kristie came in. “Most of the dogs are smooth or short-coated mixes. The men have to keep them smelling good so they are not offensive to the other inmates. They were washing them too often, and that was causing some problems.” Emily and Kristie came in and talked to the men about proper shampoo technique, how different types of shampoos work to improve the pets’ skin and coat, how to brush the dogs, how to restrain them to trim their nails safely, and how to clean their ears. “We were able to bring in some grooming tools, but no scissors and oddly no slicker brushes!” she said. “Something about removing the teeth and using them in ways they shouldn’t.”
“All the men were very receptive, and they were extremely interested in learning about the grooming business. They asked lots of questions. They even sent us a thank you card.”
Kristie and Emily are hoping to help raise funds to enable the inmates to purchase high quality food and shampoos for the dogs. They plan to make a return visit to help the inmates and their dogs in the near future. Because grooming matters.
Are you interested in helping the Prison Pups n Pals program?
You can send contributions to:
HALIFAX HUMANE SOCIETY INC
WVKC PRISON PUPS N PALS
2364 W. LPGA BOULEVARD
P.O. BOX 9035
DAYTONA BCH., FL 32120
TAX DEDUCTIBLE, HHS IS A 501 C3 NOT FOR PROFIT