EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has a special program for low-risk inmates to train dogs from the shelter to help dogs get adopted, and the chance for inmates to learn job skills.

The Paws program has been in place for the last 15 years. The founder of the Animal Rescue League of El Paso, Loretta Hyde, said it showcases all the trustees [inmates] that are willing to put in the time and work to train the second chance dogs.

Inmates train dogs’ basic obedience.

“…hand signals, voice commands. What basic obedience is we, you know, we come out and we go through the steps. So, if there’s somebody that’s lacking or need more critique on what they’re doing then you know, we stay long enough to make sure that everybody’s on the same page,” Hyde said.

The Paws program takes about 6 weeks, once completed, the dogs graduate with basic obedience and the inmates are also recognized for their training.

“…it does help them obtain the certificate in the basic dog obedience training that can be used to help their skill set on the outside to get a job,” Ashley Fernandez, a detention officer at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.

Fernandez also said when these trustees start the program, it is always a different experience.

“Some are scared of dogs and that’s something that we work with them on. The dogs come in and most of the time they’re very unruly, so it’s a nice process to watch them go from being untrainable, untouchable to being loving, caring and wanting attention. As far as the trustees, we do take them out every day,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez said the program positively helps the inmates with their mental health, anxiety, depression, etc.

“It feels really great, you know, just coming out and just absorbing with the dogs. Teaching dogs how to be obedient training wise and everything, and just hopefully getting them a good home,” an inmate at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.

To learn more about the Animal Rescue League of El Paso click here.