Deaf Dogs Rescued By California Inmates — 50 Canines Threatened By Sand Fire Taken In And Cared For Under ‘Paws 4 Life’ Program

Inmates in a California prison have become the guardians of deaf dogs that were rescued from a shelter threatened by wildfire. The rescue and care program, christened “Paws 4 Life,” involves matching prisoners with canines for mutual benefits.

California State Prison in Los Angeles County offered to care for all the dogs that had to be rescued from a shelter which was threatened by a raging wildfire nearby. The dogs, all of whom are deaf, are now being lovingly cared for by inmates housed in the correctional facility.

About 50 dogs had to be evacuated from Deaf Dogs Rescue of America in Acton, California, this past Sunday after the shelter’s directors noticed the flames from the Sand Fire had begun to blow in the direction of the shelter. Lisa Tipton and her husband, Mark Tipton, manage the shelter in Acton, California. They felt it was quite risky to keep the dogs there any longer.

“We’re pretty high up on a hill and we didn’t want to take a chance on floating embers ’cause all it takes is one to light this whole place up. We knew if we had an issue in the middle of the night, (we) would be here alone with 45 dogs to load up.”

Despite making a heartfelt plea to numerous local centers, shelters, and other rescues, none of the facilities that were equipped with the proper infrastructure to harbor the dogs agreed to take the deaf animals. Surprisingly, it was the California State Prison in Los Angeles County that agreed to take all the dogs under their care. The institution didn’t forward any queries about the canines, added Lisa Tipton.

“I got on the phone and called dozens of places. The only place that agreed to give all the dogs temporary shelter: The California State Prison — Los Angeles County, in Lancaster, Calif.”

The Sand Fire had already blazed through more than 58 square miles of dry bush. The raging inferno had burned down 18 homes and displaced about 20,000 people in Santa Clarita, reported SCPR. When the flames veered menacingly in the direction of the dog shelter, the management didn’t waste time to take preemptive action and decided to evacuate the deaf canines. The husband-wife duo drove 20 miles to the prison and transferred the dogs to the inmates’ care, reported the Daily Mail.

The correctional facility in California has many inmates involved with a voluntary program called “Paws 4 Life.” The program essentially matches screened inmates with dogs that have been rescued and are living in shelters across the county, reported WCVB. These dogs get a new lease of life as well as multiple guardians. If not for the inmates, these canines would most likely be euthanized, noted Kristina Khokobashvili, a public information officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The inmates work with the dogs under the guidance of professional dog trainers. The dogs are taught to be social and amiable with other humans. After undergoing a comprehensive obedience training schedule, the dogs are certified. The inmates help the dogs clear the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test. The certificate indicates the dog knows basic human interaction commands and is capable of interacting in a mild and peaceful manner. The certification is a huge bonus for the dogs, as it significantly boosts their chances of adoption. Till date, more than 70 dogs that have participated in the Paws 4 Life program have found loving homes through the adoption process, reported ABC News.

When the Tiptons returned the next morning to check on the dogs, they instantly knew the dogs were in good hands, shared Lisa.

“When we came by the next morning, every single dog had a smile on their face and was enjoying themselves. Even the pretty difficult dogs I thought would get snappy were thriving.”

While the Paws 4 Life program is meant for the dogs, many inmates claim it gives them peace and helps them remain calm and have positive attitude, owing to their interaction with the canines.

[Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images]