I also had the good fortune to help start a program called New Leash on Life in Robeson County, North Carolina.
Volunteers go to the animal shelters and select dogs which are scheduled for euthanasia. Dogs that are more difficult to place are generally those that are large. Black dogs are more difficult to place in good homes than light-colored dogs. When a large dog is unruly and hard to manage, it's almost certain that he or she will be difficult to adopt out, and will often spend their life in a revolving door of homes.
In an attempt to make the dog more adoptable and give him or her the best chance at a good life, the New Leash on Life program pairs one dog with two prison trainers. The prisoners must apply for the job, get interviewed, and adhere to certain guidelines in order to keep their job.
They must take complete care of the dog, ensuring their safety, cleanliness, adequate food and water, freedom from ticks and fleas, adequate exercise, and plenty of love. They also learn how to obedience train the dog WITHOUT PUNISHMENT, teaching them how to sit, stay, come, heel, and lie down. The dogs love the training and attention so much, the prisoners usually teach them tricks as well, such as agility training.
After the dogs have been trained (usually in eight weeks) they are adopted by loving homes. The program has had a 100% effectiveness in placing the dogs. Only one has been returned due to an owner's terminal illness, and that dog was immediately adopted by another loving family.
Below is a video showing one of the prisoners demonstrating his dog's ability to obey commands using only the praise method and no punishment. Chevy, the dog in the video, is part Newfoundland and part Lab. His biggest problem was hyperactivity. You can see in the video below how calm he is; the trainer demonstrates sit and stay, heel, and lie down and stay.
More videos of Chevy are shown on YouTube. My channel is http://www.youtube.com/user/terrellpm. You'll find many other dogs in training there as well, as I had the privilege of working with several groups of dogs before passing the torch to another trainer.
Chevy was adopted by a wonderful family in Pennsylvania, who still phone me once a week to tell me how much they love him!