Florida Department of Corrections Banner, Secretary Mark S. Inch


December 11, 2020

Contact: FDC Communications
(850) 488-0420

FDC Celebrates Pups N Pals 10-Year Anniversary
FDC’s Partnership with the Halifax Humane Society provides life skills, instills pride in inmates and saves shelter dogs.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — FDC is proud to celebrate Pups N Pals Class 58 and 10 years of partnership with the Halifax Humane Society at Tomoka Correctional Institution. The partnership provides valuable training and foster services to the Halifax Humane Society and the Department of Veteran Affairs and reduces shelter euthanasia rates. The inmates learn valuable skills that increase employment opportunities upon release and gain a sense of positive purpose during their incarceration.

Over the last 10 years, Pups N Pals has worked with inmates to train and foster hundreds of shelter dogs at Tomoka CI. Each dog is paired with one or two inmates who care for them full-time during an intensive eight-week training session. Following training, dogs are adopted out to eager families who appreciate the time and effort put into the dogs. Most adoptions take place near or after graduation.

At least two dogs from each graduating class are chosen to complete the Paws of Freedom Program which works with the Department of Veteran Affairs to match trained companion dogs with veterans. Veterans have adopted more than 180 dogs, affectionately known as “buddies,” over the life of the program. Veterans have reported decreased loneliness, anxiety and depression and an overall improvement in their wellbeing. Veteran service dogs are trained for owners who may need special accommodations, such as mobility assistance or emotional support. Some dogs even learn to salute!

Officer Gail Irwin has facilitated Pups N Pals since its inception and works closely with the Halifax Humane society which provides all food, medical and curriculum needs. She remembers when the program began with just five dogs and quickly increased to 10 within nine months.

“When these dogs arrive from the shelter, you can almost see a lift in their spirits immediately and the inmates training them have more pride in their walk,” said Officer Irwin. “They’re training these dogs to get a forever home or go to a veteran. How much more can a heart handle than to know your dog is going to a veteran?”

One former FDC inmate earned certification through the Pups N Pals program and was hired at a local shelter upon his release. Whether or not inmates choose to go into dog training or handling employment opportunities following release, they develop valuable life skills and connections to assist with successful restoration back to their communities.

We congratulate Pups N Pals Class 58 and all of our partners involved in this program to provide opportunities for positive choices for inmates and finding fur-ever homes for shelter dogs.


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 146,000 offenders in the community.

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