Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News



Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News


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Friday, 15 August 2014 00:00

Canine Corrections Academy prepares dogs for adoption

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Ryan Lambert and Duke show off tricks that Lambert taught the dog as part of the Canine Corrections Academy. The program was developed by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin. Ryan Lambert and Duke show off tricks that Lambert taught the dog as part of the Canine Corrections Academy. The program was developed by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin. Dennis Hines/staff

MESSENGER -- Duke, a dog that once was considered shy, scared and unadoptable is ready for a loving home thanks to a  partnership between the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.

The organizations recently teamed up to develop the Canine Corrections Academy, in which an inmate from the Rock County Education and Criminal Addiction Program works with a dog that is housed at the humane society to help it become adoptable.

Duke is the program’s first graduate. Read the current edition here:

Brett Frazier, executive director for the humane society, said Duke was placed in the society’s stray-hold program, then transferred to the Canine Corrections Academy shortly after the program was established.

“Duke was a little bit of a naughty boy,” Frazier said. “He was running away from the police department. We couldn’t get him. He was showing signs of aggression. It didn’t take long for our staff to get him, but it was an indicator that he was a very scared dog. Over the course of that stray-hold program, he lucked out. This program came together at just the right time for Duke. At the humane society, we’re not a place where animals are stored. We’re a place where animals come when they need help, and our goal is to get them in safe and loving homes as quick as we can.”

Ryan Lambert, who just completed the RECAP program, worked with retired deputies Don Miller and Matthew Pyne to help train Duke. During the course of a month, they trained the dog to learn commands like sit, stay and come, as well as skills to help him become adoptable.

“Ryan has done an incredible job taking a dog who was in a bad spot, who was nervous, who lacked confidence and was not adoptable,” Frazier said. “He transformed Duke into this beautiful, well-behaved dog. We’re so proud of the success of this program.”

During a recent ceremony, Lambert received a certificate and Duke received a rawhide bone for completing the program. Sheriff Robert Spoden said he is pleased that the program has its first graduate.

“I didn’t want it to be just a feel-good program. I wanted it to accomplish something,” Spoden said. “I wanted it to have some positive impact on the community. I didn’t want it to be a publicity stunt. I wanted it to mean something.”

Lambert said he enjoyed having the opportunity to be involved with the program and to work with Duke.

“At first, working with him was kind of hard for the both of us,” Lambert said. “After awhile, it got easier and we just meshed really well, and I think we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.”

Spoden said the other inmates enjoyed interacting with Duke, as well.

“It’s been a wonderful journey for us the past four weeks, not just for the sheriff’s office but for the inmates in the jail,” Spoden said. “They’ve done a fantastic job working with this canine. It’s brought calm. It’s brought a sense of peace and quiet. It’s done everything we had hoped for.”

Frazier said the sheriff’s office and the humane society have wanted to establish a canine corrections program for several years.

“We wanted to do it right, because it’s about more than just one dog, it’s about all the dogs that will come after,” Spoden said. “The inmates and the handlers will really have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of pets. The Canine Corrections Academy is a way to make a connection between a person who is motivated and a pet that needs to make that people connection.”

Frazier said he hopes the program will continue.

“After Duke, there will be a couple more thousand dogs coming to the humane society just in the next 12 months that will need help, too,” Frazier said. “So when we create a program, we want to do it in a way that it’s sustainable and effective and that we can keep it going over time. For us, there are dozens and dozens of dogs that could benefit from this program coming down the pipeline within the next few weeks.”

Frazier said, even though Duke graduated from the program within four weeks, there will be no set timeline for when other dogs would graduate.

“(Duke) lacked a lot of skills necessary to be an adoption candidate. In four weeks, he was able to obtain those skills,” Frazier said. “That’s not to say the next dog would take six weeks, eight weeks or 12 weeks. The cool thing about this program is that it’s flexible enough and the jail staff is flexible enough that the dog is given the time it needs to graduate from this program.”

Spoden said several RECAP inmates have expressed an interest in serving as a trainer for the canine academy.

“Once this got off the ground, we had a large interest, a lot of letters from inmates that wanted to get involved and do this. That’s a good sign for us,” Spoden said. “It’s a good way for us to get inmates to do something positive and to get inmates to interact in a positive way with an animal. Ryan was outstanding, and we’re pleased that he’s done such a good job.”

Residents who are interested in adopting Duke or any other future graduates of the Canine Corrections Academy can call 608-752-5622 or go to

Lambert said he hopes to be able to interact with Duke after he is adopted.

“I would be open to keep in contact with Duke if it’s OK with the owners,” Lambert said.

Frazier said Lambert and Duke have formed a strong bond during the past month.

“The bonds we form with animals are strong. For some of us, they’re stronger than the bonds we form with other people,” Frazier said. “Whoever the handler is, they’re going to form a strong bond with the dogs that need help. It’s gone just as well as we could expect for the people and the pet. I’m hopeful that Ryan will be able to stay in touch with Duke over time.”

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