Bark at Dark, a benefit auction for Paws in Prison, brought in more than $13,000 Thursday night.
The event was PIP’s first fundraiser and it was held in the Grand Hall of the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.
“I guess you could say it was a howling success,” said Shea Wilson, Arkansas Department of Correction spokeswoman. “This was our first big event and we weren’t sure what to expect. We had a goal in mind of around $10,000, so raising several thousand dollars more was just great. Our supporters overwhelmed us and we are grateful.”
Bark at Dark featured both silent and live auctions, a special demonstration of skills by some of the Paws dogs and a review of some of the program’s successes.
One of the dogs featured was Freckles, a dog brought to the program by the Jefferson County Humane Society. Freckles was trained by inmates at the Randall L. Williams Correctional Facility in Pine Bluff.
“Paws in Prison has a wonderful partnership with Jefferson County,” Wilson said. “This is a great relationship and it’s a meaningful one for ADC. We are headquartered here in Pine Bluff, so it was important to our director, Ray Hobbs, and employees who live in this community that we make an impact here.”
RLW has four dogs in its program, which typically rotate out on eight-week cycles. PIP has programs in four other units: Maximum Security at Tucker; Ouachita River Correctional in Malvern; North Central at Calico Rock and the Hawkins Center for Women at Wrightsville.
“Some units have four or five dogs, others eight, so we typically average about 30 dogs total at any given time,” Wilson said.
Since Paws in Prison began in December 2011, about 135 dogs have been saved from perishing in animal shelters and pounds where they were at risk of being euthanized. Just as important, this program is a positive one for inmates, Wilson said.
“They are doing something good for the state, which in turn helps pay back some of the debt caused by their crimes,” Wilson said. “But, they also are learning new skills and to exercise the patience and responsibility required for training dogs — and welcome the bonus that they receive the companionship and unconditional love dogs can provide. The inmate trainers work hard and do a good job.”
PIP’s dogs are spayed and neutered, housebroken and trained in basic obedience skills.
Anyone who is interested in adopting a Paws in Prison dog may do so at http://adc.arkansas.gov/PawsInPrison/Pages/AvailableDogs.aspx
Anyone interested in supporting the program may make online contributions at http://adc.arkansas.gov/PawsInPrison/Pages/Donate.aspx
Or, contributions can be made by mail to Arkansas Paws in Prison, PO Box 8707, Pine Bluff, AR 71611.