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Pups on Parole program for inmates makes post-COVID comeback

The COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t kill Pups on Parole.

The program that sends last-chance Las Vegas dogs for training by inmates at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in North Las Vegas went dark during the pandemic that started two years ago. But now, pooches rescued by the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society are headed back to the big house as part of Pups on Parole for help with behavioral issues such as aggressive food behavior, anxiety and trouble getting along with other dogs.

“Since COVID everything was shut down,” said Kiley Esprecion, a dog coordinator for Pups on Parole. “We went back about six weeks ago (to the prison), we got everything settled, we got all the girls into the program who wanted, and we brought all the dogs.”

On Thursday, another batch of dogs was scheduled for delivery to the prison on Smiley Road. They included a large, deaf Dalmation named Spud. Spud needs help with his behavior before he is placed in a rescue home.

“We pull the behavioral dogs, and we train them, and we try to find the right family,” Esprecion said.

Pups on Parole has received significant local praise since it started in 2000. Similar programs can be found at prisons across the nation. In 2017, an inmate told the Las Vegas Review-Journal she was thankful for Pups on Parole as she prepared for release back into society.

“I need a purpose,” she said. “I know that I’m in prison, but I still have meaning.”

Francesca Fulciniti, executive director of Heaven Can Wait, said the animal shelter is committed to ending unnecessary euthanasia for animals in the Las Vegas Valley. She described Pups on Parole as an incredibly valuable endeavor that gives inmates hope while also helping save dogs.

“Seeing them turn around and seeing some of the women after release is really amazing to see,” Fulciniti said.

For more information or to support the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society or Pups on Parole, call 702-375-1078 or visit heavencanwaitlv.org.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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