UNCONDITIONAL LOVE PROGRAM
We are hopeful this program will resume after the pandemic is over.
Founded in 2011, Alaqua Animal Refuge’s Unconditional Love Program pairs adoptable canines with inmates for the purposes of training. Adele helped concieve of the program and has worked with it since its inception. The inmates learn empathy, patience and respect while teaching the dogs basic obedience skills and Jin Shin Jyutsu, thereby increasing the dogs’ chances of finding forever homes. After graduating from the program, canines are either adopted as family pets or move on for acceptance into a recognized therapy program.
Approximately ten canines participate in the program at Walton County Correctional facility with new dogs rotating every 10-12 weeks as dogs complete the program and graduate. As of December 2017, 216 dogs have found homes.
All of the dogs are evaluated by the ULP team of instructors, including Adele to ensure they are good candidates for the program, getting along well with people and dogs. Dogs are picked who often are overlooked at the refuge or just need some socializing to make them adoptable. The program is dedicated to teaching basic obedience where the dogs learning to sit, stand, heel and leash walk ultimately leading to program completion.
The Unconditional Love Program ensures that the dogs that are trained have basic skills and sets standards for more involved training. The program also provides inmates a training skill while building a sense of accomplishment, empathy and patience. Similar programs report 97% of inmate handlers and sitters demonstrated greater empathy and decreased depression during incarceration; 87% demonstrated improved communication skills; and institutional staffs report a decrease in disciplinary issues and improved institutional adjustment by inmates involved in canine training programs. The program demonstrates the true picture of second chances, both to the canine and to the inmate.
Adele introduces the practice of J.S.J. for both self help and for the dogs into the program during week one. It is practiced by inmates throughout the course of the program. Jin Shin Jyutsu, the ancient art that harmonizes the balance of body, mind and spirit through hands-on practice, fits surprising well in this setting. This practice enhances the bond and results in the ability for both the inmate and canine to grow, change and ultimately experience healing and harmony. The men are required to work on themselves in order to become more centered as well as to understand what the canine experience when sharing a session. The men learn to understand the meaning of the flows and Safety Energy Locks and how to share them with dogs of many different breeds and temperaments. Each man develops a treatment plan to help their dog overcome particular issues such as trauma from the past, fears, food aggression, immune deficiencies, arthritis and skin issues to name a few.