Coyote Ridge Corrections Center Adds Puppies to Program - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center Adds Puppies to Ridge Dogs Program

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For the first time, puppies are roaming the grounds at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell. For the first time, puppies are roaming the grounds at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.

CONNELL, WA - For the first time, puppies are roaming the grounds at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell. 

Through "Ridge Dogs," offenders train dogs before they go up for adoption. Now after a successful three years, the program is growing. 

Every week, offenders, prison staff, and directors from local pet rescues get together for a group discussion. 

"Instead of just two guys going off to figure it out on their own," said Daniel Jolliffe, a ridge dog mentor, "we have 40 guys exchanging information, exchanging experiences. And that structure, I think would be invaluable on the streets."

Jolliffe has been in prison for 21 years. This week, he led the group discussion.

"A lot of dogs get put in the shelter because people don't want to spend time with them," he said. "They can't control them, they have behavioral issues. And then they come here, and they're kind of like us. They get a second chance."

It's the offenders changing the dogs, as the dogs change them. 

"Prison is the place where madness reigns," Jolliffe said, "and to get away from that is very very difficult, but you get a program like this and it can change everything."

With puppies now in the program, he says offenders don't have time to pick fights or cause trouble, since the puppies require constant care. 

"We saw it a little bit with out regular dogs throughout the first couple of years," Jolliffe said, "but this is our first litter of puppies. And when you walk into a room with guys who think they're really hard core, and then all of a sudden they're like, 'puppies!' that's a really cool thing to see."

Even the newer offenders, like Daniel Williams, see the benefits.

"I kind of feel like the dogs are the same as us, kind of locked up and they need reprogramming like we do," Williams said. "Sometimes I think that they also train us some thing or two, as we try to train them."

The prison's director of programs, Lori Telleria says when the offenders learn to positively influence a dog, they realize they can positively influence society.

"In a prison setting there isn't a lot to keep you busy," Telleria said, "but there's just nothing like giving them someone and something to take care of that just puts that hope back in their eyes."

Up until recently, offenders at the minimum security prison actually asked to move to the medium security facility just to be in the program, but now they don't have to; Ridge Dogs is expanding. 

"We have people asking us to expand that," Telleria said, "we have other units of the facility asking to bring dogs into those units so, it's just getting bigger."

Even outside the prison.

"This program happens to be one that I know I can take to the streets," Jolliffe said. "Probably start my own company. Once you start to realize you can re-integrate, you can start getting back to a real life. This is the kind of program that makes that change."

Several dogs in the program are up for adoption through the Benton Franklin Humane Society, Adams County Pet Rescue, and Forgotten Dog Rescue.  To see which dogs need forever homes, you can check out the Ridge Dog facebook page by clicking here