Sarina Atwell, Morrow County dog warden, gave an informative and entertaining message when she spoke to Cardington Seniors recently.

Meeting at the Seniors on Center for their monthly meeting, the seniors heard Atwell describe the dog training program provided by inmates at Marion Correctional Institution. She said dogs from the Morrow County dog shelter are placed there for training before adoption into the community.

The program which began in August, 2018 requires that the inmates apply for the job of being assigned a dog for four weeks of training and are designated as an apprentice.

During that time they are supervised by a handler. They can then become a handler and be able to be with the dog without direct supervision.

There are currently seven dogs in the program. They stay in a crate in their inmate’s cell when not being trained or in other activities. There are several small grass yards where dogs can be with handlers and also larger yards where they practice being around larger number of inmates and other dogs.

These are secure areas as prison buildings surround all sides of the yards.

Currently, there are 18 handlers with a waiting list of more who have applied. The four weeks training includes obedience, listening to commands, house and crate training and learning tricks.

The dog shelter pays for dog food and supplies. The prison has a grant to pay for grooming and inmates also purchase items for their dogs.

After completing the training of being a handler the inmate receives a certificate in dog training and grooming which are valid outside the prison. Several inmates who have been released have used the certificate to get started working as a trainer or groomer.

People who wish to donate always needed supplies to the dog shelter can call them at 419-946-1747 for suggestions of donations.

Many handlers have noted when dogs are ill they are taken back to the shelter and checked by a vet if needed. They stay at the shelter until well

as no medication is allowed at the prison.

The speaker was introduced by Terry Connor, activity director at the Senior Center.

The next meeting of the seniors will be held at Seniors on Center at noon on Sept. 24. All county seniors 60 and older are invited to the lunch and program. Reservations and cancellations should be called to the center, 419-946-4191 before noon on Thursday, Sept. 23. The program will feature Julie White from the OSU Extension, speaking on personal health care.

By Evelyn Long

For The Sentinel