Columbia County Sheriff David Harrison, Jr. announces that the Sheriff's Office is starting a new program in the county jail which will accept homeless dogs who will be taught basic obedience training and other skills by inmates, that will help the dogs be more adoptable and increase their chances of going to a permanent home.  The Sheriff's Office contacted the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA (CGHS/SPCA) to become partners in the program which is called "A New Leash on Life".  The program was developed by then Corrections Captain John Davi. 

This unique partnership places homeless dogs selected by these agencies, into the Columbia County Jail where they will live with and be trained by specifically selected volunteer inmates.  The inmates who are chosen to be primary and secondary handlers must first be eligible based on their classification and their disciplinary history while incarcerated.  They are then interviewed individually by Sheriff's Office staff.  Once chosen, the inmate will receive two hours of classroom training before they begin six weeks of round the clock care of their assigned dog.  Once a week, a formal training class is held by Charlene Marchand, a volunteer professional trainer and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the CGHS/SPCA.  Depending on the needs of each individual dog, the inmate will work with the dog on basic home skills and socialization.  Once the dogs complete the six week program, they will work with the dog on basic home skills and socialization.  Once the dogs complete the six week program, they will possess obedience skills such as how to heel, sit, recall and stay.  The dogs will also be house trained, leash trained and responsive to voice and hand commands, making the dog more adoptable with the end result being their adoption to a loving permanent home.

Upon completion, the dogs will be available for adoption through the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA.  The program costs county taxpayers nothing as those involved volunteer their time, and equipment is donated or purchased from the inmate commissary fund as allowed by the NYS Commission of Correction.

Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA is dedicated to the protection, humane treatment and well being of all animals.  Its mission is accomplished by commitment to community outreach, humane education and prevention of cruelty to animals.  They do not euthanize animals for space constraints and do not receive any federal, state or county funding.

It is our hope that this program will not only provide a second chance for these sheltered dogs, but will also allow the inmates participating in the program to experience a feeling of giving back something positive to the community and gain a sense of responsibility and satisfaction by teaching and taking care of the animal.  They will also learn job skills in dog training and grooming which may help them once they are released from jail.

For more information about "A New Leash on Life" program or adopting a dog that has graduated from the program contact the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA at (518) 828-6044 or email

Copyright 2006 Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Hudson, NY 12534