New leashes on life

SAFE Avon Valley volunteers Gloria Robinson and Ellie Todd with Lou-Lou the Great Dane.
SAFE Avon Valley volunteers Gloria Robinson and Ellie Todd with Lou-Lou the Great Dane.

For the past two years, SAFE Avon Valley has partnered with Acacia Prison in the Acacia Animal Care Training Program.

As part of the program, dogs are taken from the shelter into the prison, where inmates help train the dogs so they can better fit into a family environment after being adopted out.

The organisation, which is volunteer-run and self-funded, takes in unwanted dogs from shires across the Avon Valley.

SAFE Avon Valley founder Gloria Robinson said the organisation aimed to promote responsible pet ownership in the community.

‘Most of the dogs we get are just naughty because they have not been trained properly,’ Ms Robinson said.

Acacia Prison resettlement manager Elaine Toovey said having the dogs there from 8am to 4pm made for a more positive environment.

‘Just having the dogs here has had a calming effect on prisoners ” when talking with the guards about training, the barriers are broken,’ she said.

Ms Robinson said the program gave prisoners the opportunity to give back to the community, while gaining qualifications in animal management.

‘There are two handlers per dog during the day. They teach them basic manners and skills,’ Ms Robinson said. ‘We have had dogs come in with the recommendation that they be put down, but once they have gone through the program, it really turns their life around.

‘I’ve had grown men cry in front of me and tell me how much the dogs mean to them.’

Ms Robinson said SAFE Avon Valley urgently needed more volunteers, foster carers and donations.

To donate or for more information, visit safeavonvalley.com.