Tell Me Something Good - Guardian Angels at Mabel Bassett
Six inmates at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center are meeting their new four-legged friends for the very first time.
It's day one of the Guardian Angels program. The man responsible is Dr. John Otto, a veterinarian who's devoted 17 years of his life placing pets with prisoners.
"You'll see a lot of nervousness, being anxious, and being unruly," he said. "But then you get the two together and you see this relationship develop."
The same program is called Friends For Folks for male inmates at the Lexington Correctional Center. It motivates offenders to get their G.E.D., study for college credit, and earn parole.
"They almost change their life, they don't want to get a misconduct, they don't want to leave the program," said Lee Fairchild, the Case Manager in charge of the program at Lexington.
Case in point: Marvin Perry who was once serving 50 years for murder. Fox 25 was there back in 2006 when a dog named Star was transforming Perry's life. Using skills he learned from the program, Perry turned Star into an award-winning tracking dog. She in turn gave him a second chance at life.
"There's no reason why I should ever come back, be incarcerated again. My life has changed completely," Perry said during his interview back in 2006.
That responsibility now rests with the three new rescue dogs being paired with the offenders.
"We are bringing dogs that otherwise wouldn't be adopted very quickly because they're either under socialized or they have behavior problems," said Amy Shrodes, with the Central Oklahoma Humane Society.
"She's a dog that was rescued from a puppy mill. She was held in a cage for two years and the only time she's ever been touched was when someone reached in her cage and took her babies away," said Clara, one of the offenders in the Guardian Angels program.
Clara and her roommate had to earn the right to enter the program. They'll spend 13 weeks training their new cell mate, Lady, so she's completely responsible for a human being.
"Because they're going out into the world and they're going to do something for somebody," Clara said.
A dog named Hanna is going to April.
"She's been caged and I know what it's like to be caged," said April, another offender in the program. "I hate it."
At the end of the program, the dogs will be available for adoption. New dogs from the Humane Society will move in and continue showing offenders unconditional love.
"It's a 3 win situation," said Otto. "It helps the pet, it helps the offender, and it helps the community as a whole."
Who knows... maybe one of the three dogs will follow in Stars footsteps and earn a spot in the Oklahoma Animal Hall of Fame for saving the life of one person and changing the life of another.
"I love you Star, you changed my life."