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Dog program helps inmate thrive after incarceration

Dog program helps inmate thrive after incarceration

NORMAN, Okla. -- It’s so easy to be trapped in a season and miss the light on the horizon. Angelina Cicone said, “It’s easy to get lost in tomorrow and upset with yourself about yesterday. But the dogs just keep you in today.” 

Today -- Angelina Cicone is a professional dog trainer. “I never would have thought I would be doing what I love to do.” She said. Her success here was built from life’s greatest disappointments. 

Angelina says unspeakable childhood trauma lead her down a destructive path of crime and drug abuse. In 2013, she was convicted and incarcerated at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. 

According to Cicone, “As soon as I got there, I noticed the dog program and I wanted to be a part of that.” 

Mabel Bassett pairs unwanted and abused animals with inmates. The animals go through a rigorous training program and are eventually used as therapy and service animals. “Three dogs I worked with are active service dogs. Two PTSD dogs and a seizure dog,” Cicone said. 

Veterinarian John Otto is an advocate for the “Friends For Folks” program and recommended Angelina for her new position at OK Canine Corral in Norman. He said, “This program helps everybody. And Angelina is an example of that. She sound be very proud of herself.” 

Angelina Cicone is now a champion for the woman at Mabel Bassett. She visits and sends encouraging messages as often as possible. “It’s a hard place. A lot of people get lost in there,“ She said, “I’m grateful for that and grateful it gave me a skill to do what I love. I tell them what God has done in my life and it’s been an amazing journey.” 

For the first time, she’s living with anticipation, rather than regret. “Forward is definitely more important, definitely.” She said. 

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