Death Row Dogs Part I

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

When we arrive on the first day of the Death Row Dogs training program inmates are in the community room of the prison meeting the dogs they will work with for the next eight weeks.

John Smithers is at the Green River Correctional Complex for attempted murder and first degree burglary. This is his first time as a trainer in the death row dogs program.

John says: "I don't really know what to expect. There's a lot to it."

Jon and his cellmate, Vernon Keaton, are waiting for Rico to arrive. Rico is the dog that will share the cell with Jon and Vernon for the next eight weeks.

John says: "He's a little Chihuahua. A little tri-colored. It's a real small dog. It's been abused and stuff so it's real scared. We're going to have to work with it a lot. A lot of love and care and it will turn around."

Finally Rico arrives...

"This yours? Yeah. Oh."

After meeting the dogs they are taken for baths and fitted for leashes and harnesses. And then it's back to the cell where they get to know each other even better.

Rico immediately makes himself at home. Jon knows there is a lot of hard work ahead of him.

Jon says: "Take it one day at a time... Move step by step."

But he's ready for the challenge and he says he wants to help Rico have a second chance, while proving to the outside world that he can change.

Jon says: "It makes me feel really good about myself. I mean, we're still locked up. And we still have to do the time for the crime that we committed, but if we can help to make a difference for the outside, while we're in here, then that's good."


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