April 23, 2021
Contact: FDC Communications
ICYMI: Prison Programs in Marion County Gives Dogs and Inmates A New Sense Of Purpose
A Marion Correctional Institution Work Camp project is putting dogs behind bars with prisoners.
One former inmate, George Warner, said he worked with around 10 dogs during his time at the camp. One of his favorites: A bull mastiff named Trooper. Warner even taught him a special trick to show at graduation, where the inmates meet the people who will adopt the dogs.
“My trick was – I would say, ‘Go to jail,’ and he would go into his own cage,” Warner said. “He would open his own cage and go inside.”
Dogs from Marion County Animal Services are paired with male inmates who applied to be a part of the Florida Inmates and Dog Obedience Project, or as it’s more commonly known, FIDO. It puts a select number of inmates and dogs together all day and night for eight weeks.
The institution’s K-9 trainer at the time, Officer Michele Haney, helped to create FIDO. She worked at the camp for six years and helped train the program’s first four classes.
“All the dogs did extremely well, and the inmates did very good training the dogs and working with the dogs,” said Haney, who continues to train canines privately these days.
As Florida's largest state agency, and the third largest state prison system in the country, FDC employs 24,000 members, incarcerates 80,000 inmates and supervises nearly 145,000 offenders in the community.