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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary


Press Release
June 28, 2010
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
(850) 488-0420

Prison Dog Training Program Celebrating Third Anniversary and Graduation Ceremony for Latest Canine Class

TALLAHASSEE -- The dog days of summer seem an appropriate time for the latest four-legged canine class at Taylor Correctional Institution (C.I.) Work Camp to graduate, and simultaneously celebrate the program's third anniversary. Ten more dogs will walk down the aisle at the prison work camp in Perry on June 30, 2010 at 10 a.m. This successful partnership between the Florida Department of Corrections and the Tallahassee Animal Service Center has resulted in the successful adoption of 162 dogs so far from the eight to ten week program.

The Undergoing Training and Obedience in Prison to Increase Adoptability (UTOPIA) program, which began on June 4, 2007, benefits both the inmates who work with the dogs and the animals by making them more adoptable.  The goal of the program is to take dogs with behavioral problems and teach inmates to socialize and train them to increase their chances of being adopted.

“UTOPIA and our other dog programs have been successful from the start, because everybody wins. The dogs get adopted, the inmates learn a trade and the owners get a well-trained companion who may have had a very different fate if not for this program,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil.

To date, 162 dogs have graduated and all have been adopted. The ten dogs graduating on June 30 are all available for adoption. Over 200 inmates have participated in UTOPIA during the past year. Working with the dogs is a regular work assignment for the inmates at the institution, giving them hands-on experience that may lead to jobs with animals upon release.

“Staff and inmates love the program.  Inmates take ownership of their assigned dogs and take great pride in their accomplishments,” said Warden Duane Spears, noting that 34 of the 36 inmates involved with the UTOPIA program have been disciplinary free for the last six months.

Food and equipment for the UTOPIA program are donated, so there is little cost to the Department. Each canine is leash trained and taught tricks of the trade (sit, come, stay) for a well-behaved dog and life-long companion. In addition, all canines are crate trained and housebroken. The UTOPIA adoption fee is $100 to $150 and goes to the Animal Service Center. Services included in the adoption fee are: behavioral assessment, health assessment, rabies vaccine, tag and certificate, other vaccinations appropriate for age, sterilization surgery, AVID microchip, Heartworm testing for dogs six months and older and basic obedience training.

To see the most recent graduates, visit www.talgov.com/animals/utopia.cfm or the Department’s website at www.dc.state.fl.us and scroll down to the “Will You Adopt Me?” section.

Reporters who wish to attend the UTOPIA graduation ceremony, please contact the Department of Corrections’ Communications Office at (850) 488-0420 immediately.

Directions to Taylor Work Camp (at 8501 Hampton Springs Road Perry, Florida 32348-8747):  Take HWY 27 South from Tallahassee to US 98 in Perry and take a right (West). Go approximately 3 1/2 miles to CR-356 (Hampton Springs Rd.) and take a left. Go approximately 6 miles and you will see Taylor Correctional Work Camp on your left.

Other Contact info: Tallahassee-Leon Community Animal Service Center: Ann English or Lisa Glunt at (850) 891-2950; Department of Corrections: Warden Spears at Taylor CI at (850) 838-4021 or Florida Department of Corrections’ Communications Office at (850) 488-0420.

Lucy Loo, one of Wednesday's graduates, is looking for a 'forever' home.
Lucy Loo, one of Wednesday's graduates, is looking for a "forever" home.