TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KERO) — Marley’s Mutts is a dog rescue in Tehachapi but they’re also rescuing people.
Their program Pawsitive Change teaches inmates in California state prisons important life lessons.
Daniel Robinson spent 11 years incarcerated and he didn’t expect any dogs either.
"I was really skeptical about that,” said Robinson, a Pawsitive Change graduate.
He joined the program Pawsitive Change in 2016 and today he’s out of prison and running his own dog training business.
“It’s amazing to see what kind of transformations people go through,” said Robinson.
The Tehachapi dog rescue Marley's Mutts created Pawsitive Change. They pair incarcerated men in California state prisons with rescue dogs.
“The program, in more ways than one, has helped us kind of rehabilitate ourselves alongside with the dogs.”
Program manager Will Mechling says the men train the dogs but also learn lessons themselves.
“The guys work with the dogs, they’re able to train the dogs, make them more adoptable, while also learning a great vocational skill and just learning to get more in touch with their emotions,” said Mechling.
Robinson says he even saw fellow inmates quit substance abuse.
"It’s almost like they just felt like it was safe for them to be in their own sober mind for once in that environment,” he said.
Will says the past year has been tough with the pandemic.
They had to shut down all but one of their programs.
“It’s really challenging for the guys. Guys got very invested in this program and we’ve had guys in the program for multiple years,” said Mechling.
But they’re hoping to restart four programs by the end of the year.
If you’d like to support them… find out how at turn to 23 dot com.
Will says with the community’s support the program can continue to help inmates and dogs rescue each other.
“Prison is a place where love doesn’t always exist so i think having the dogs there, guys are able to open up, express themselves, communicate with their team and have this unconditional love from a dog that doesn’t see them as a prisoner,” said Mechling.