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New animal shelter also gives inmates a 'Second Chance'

Ellen Abbott
Nancy, a yellow lab mix, will be the first dog trained at the new shelter at Jamesville Correctional Facility

Onondaga County’s new Second Chance Canine Adoption Shelter has opened up at the Jamesville Correctional Facility.  

A mixed-breed dog named Nancy is the first animal that will be trained at the shelter, says Emily Doucet, of Syracuse Pit Crew. Nancy, a yellow lab mix, is a perfect candidate for the shelter, which allows inmates to train and take care of abandoned dogs.

“She’s a really nice dog, but she needs a little bit of training, she needs to walk better on a leash, and take treats more gently. So she’ll be a great candidate to work with inmates and be a great family dog when they’re done with the training,” said Doucet.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney cuts the ribbon on the new Second Chance Canine Adoption Center.

This new space eases a shelter shortage in Onondaga County. And officials hope it also helps inmates. County Corrections Commissioner Tim Cowin says the rates of recidivism have been shown to be drastically reduced when dogs are paired with humans all day long.

“By the time that dog gets adopted, they’ve spent a lot of time babysitting that dog, training that dog, and they take responsibility for it. And some of them haven’t taken a lot of responsibility for their actions in the past, so this is new, and I think that’s what changes the individual,” said Cowin.

Cowin said in other regions where inmates work with dogs, the recidivism rate has been cut by about 50 percent.

Onondaga County built the shelter, but it will be operated through volunteers and funds raised by a group called Friends of Second Chance.