VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - It's been an emotional Thursday for folks at the Prison Pups N Pals graduation at the Tomoka Correctional Institution.
"We take in 12 dogs every eight weeks and four of those 12 goes to veterans. The other dogs we adopt out to the public," said Officer Gail Irwin.
"You can get caught up in yourself, especially in the situation of being incarcerated. You kind of get into a shell and you can kind of just dwell on yourself. A dog takes you out of that because it's not about me anymore," said Jeffrey Ham, inmate and dog trainer.
Which is why inmate James Lambert said he's also proud to be a part of the six-year-old program.
"It's like you can give back a little bit of what you've taken from society. I made a bunch of mistakes, that's why I'm here. These dogs gives you the ability to give back," said Lambert.
The inmates also said that the graduation was bittersweet.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 140,000 offenders in the community.