Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC) is a state run men’s prison located in Aberdeen, WA. In 2009, Freedom Tails was created in order to save shelter dogs that may otherwise be euthanized, and give offenders an opportunity to learn about responsibility, caring, and love for another living being. For many, having a commitment like this, has been for the first time in their lives.
The program has proved to be a trifecta— the dogs find loving forever homes, a home needing a new member is made whole, and the offenders find that sense of purpose in doing something that may have been missing for such a long time.
The administrator for the program is Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals (HAVA) out of Raymond, WA – an all-volunteer group. The dogs selected for the program come from various shelters within and outside of Grays Harbor County - just as the adopters do. The dogs are all spayed or neutered before leaving the program, as well as receiving all shots and given an over-all health checkup. They live with the offenders 24/7 for ten weeks. They are trained in basic commands, both verbal and hand commands, and in socialization skills. The program started with 8 dogs and 16 handlers in one living unit, H3. But, it proved to be so popular that it has grown to two units (H3 and G), up to 16 dogs, 32 handlers, and 2-4 walkers per unit. At the end of the 10 weeks, adopters are invited to the facility to a graduation ceremony and given the opportunity to sit and talk with their new family member’s handlers. The handlers and dogs give the crowd an amazing demonstration showing off all the commands and tricks learned. They also relay stories of the training process with their dogs, and often share how it has changed that individuals outlook on life, their feelings, and their morals. As of this date, Freedom Tails has found new, loving forever homes for over 315 dogs! This is a once in a lifetime event for many involved. Please pass on the word of the Freedom Tails program, or check into it yourself if you are looking for a new family member!