Prisoners in Idaho are helping shelter dogs find their forever home – one stitch at a time.
Inmates at the Acute Mental Health unit at the Idaho Department of Correction are knitting sweaters for dogs trained at their Inmate Dog Alliance (IDAPI) program, a partnership between the Idaho Humane Society and the Idaho Department of Correction that helps train unwanted dogs.
According to the Idaho Statesman who first reported the story, the program places dogs from the Idaho Humane Society temporarily in cell blocks of Idaho correctional facilities for intensive socialization and training. The newest crop of graduates will graduate in style at the end of February, when each grad receives a sweater knitted by an inmate.
Besides making the pups look cute, the project allows for collaboration between inmates and provides a sense of accomplishment, the Statesman reported.
“Some of the mental health offenders will say that they need a lot of patience to do this work,” said psychosocial rehabilitation specialist Larissa Pfeifer. “This is a population that doesn’t have a lot of patience. So to have something unravel, to have to do it again and follow a pattern is a good skill to learn. We don’t have many activities that teach that. But it is something that will help them move forward.”
While many of the dogs graduating this month already have homes, the cute sweaters could help a few of the remaining dogs get adopted. (Scarves, hats and more of their creations are available for purchase at See Spot Shop, the shelter’s in-house pet supply store and gift shop, with proceeds benefitting the IDAPI program.)
“We’ve had some really amazing luck with this program, it’s incredible,” Allison Maier, communication and outreach manager for the Idaho Humane Society, tells PEOPLE. As for the remaining adoptable dogs, “wearing a cute sweater could help catch some attention in the kennel.”