HOMINY, Okla. – Any animal lover will confirm, life without a dog – is a life diminished. Inmate Billy Sexson knows that isolation.
Sexson had very little in the way of responsibility -- until an eager tail approached the prison fence.
Mercedes has a permanent home now – inside Dick Conner Correctional Center. According to Sexton, “She spends a lot of time in her spot here on the floor of my cell. Sometimes she jumps on the bed of my cellmate.”
Mercedes is one of nearly a dozen pampered prison pets. They are all part of a unique program to rescue dogs from euthanasia. It’s called S.T.A.R – “save train and rehabilitate.”
The prisoners, most facing lengthy sentences, give and receive companionship.
The rescued, abandoned and mistreated animals also benefit from a concentrated four-month training regiment – designed to make them more adoptable. Sexson said, ”Mercedes can wave, and roll over. But her best trick is visiting the terminally ill inmates here. They don’t have long to live and they get great joy when she visits.”
There is a unique camaraderie in this unit – man’s best friend is a role model for second chances. “We get to save them and give them a second chance, send them out and hopefully get them families,” Program Coordinator Elysia Pameticky said.
These dogs don’t see the inside of a prison – but the inside of a person.