(PUNTA GORDA) Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell announced the first class of the 2013 Cell Dog program at the County Jail. Two dogs have been accepted from the Suncoast Humane Society in Englewood and will be part of the six to eight week program utilizing inmate trustees.

According to Corrections Deputy First Class Paul Dempster, the jail Programs Officer, “This program utilizes inmates on a 24-hour basis as the main handlers and trainers for these dogs that need a little tender loving care and direction with proper training to make them adoptable to a loving home. Once the dogs are brought to the Charlotte County Jail they are assigned inmate handlers; two main handlers and one back-up handler that take care of them every minute of the day. That includes the dogs sleeping in crates right next to the inmates in the Work Release Center building. “Once a week the lead trainer comes to the facility and teaches the inmates and dogs a specific lesson plan for that week. The inmates then continue that training throughout the week adding to the dog’s development and preparing them for their graduation from the program and placing into a good home.”

CDFC Dempster also said, “This program wouldn’t be possible without a few very important people to make it happen like: Phillip Snyder, Executive Director; Cheryl Casey, Director of Operations; Bess Walmsley, Lead Trainer; and Jorge Villada, Animal Care Technician.”