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Dogs go to jail in Florida

April 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM

PUNTA GORDA, Fla., April 19 (UPI) -- Three dogs are now among the inmates of the Charlotte County, Fla., jail, part of a "cell dog program" aimed at calming the jail population.

Oscar, Toby and Shila -- each a mixed-breed dog restored to health after being abandoned at the Suncoast Humane Society -- went to jail Wednesday to be cared for by inmates for about two months until they are adopted, WFTX-TV, Fort Myers, reported Thursday.

"They get obedience trained, and they get brought back to good physical health," said Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron of the dogs. "Each dog is assigned two inmates, in case one of them gets out early."

The program is designed to have a therapeutic effect on the inmate population.

"It has a calming effect in the facility, and it gives the inmates something very good to give back to society," Cameron said.

One inmate had a different take on his new friend.

"It's really all about the dogs," said inmate Mark, who is Shila's new caretaker. "It's about giving the dogs a second chance, a new home and keeping them from being put to sleep."

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