canine cellmates

Canine CellMates needs a new building asap. They are in desperate need to find a new home before the end of the year that is both easily Marta accessible and will accommodate housing dogs. This program does amazing work matching inmates with shelter dogs. To date, Canine CellMates has saved Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and the Fulton County court system almost $190,000 in jailing and judicial hearing costs (over a 5 year period, that would mean a savings to Fulton County of nearly $950,000). And while many are talking about the problem, CCM is working to fix it.

Corolla and Dominique at Canine CellmatesIn July of 2021, Canine CellMates (CCM) opened its doors on Atlanta Road to expand its rehabilitative programs that utilize shelter dogs to change the lives of incarcerated men in Atlanta.

The current building was made possible by a grant from Best Friends Animal Society and became a headquarters location for CCM, and the home of the new Beyond the Bars program. This building has served as a resource for the current and past participants of the CCM program, and housed dogs from their program that are waiting for their forever homes. The Beyond The Bars program is an alternative disposition program, centers around the magical healing power of dogs and provides an environment of positive community for its participants. Working in partnership with the district attorney’s office, they carefully select eligible participants to complete a rehabilitative program at their facility in lieu of further time in jail or prison.

CCM began in 2013 working with the Fulton County Jail to provide a better life for both inmates and rescued shelter dogs. The program is an intensive 10-week course, where carefully screened participants are assigned the responsibility of training and caring for selected shelter dogs, with the goal of preparing them for adoption. In addition, the inmates are taught valuable workforce and social-emotional skills to help them break the cycle of recidivism. To date, more than 400 inmates have participated in CCM program, and more than 180 dogs have been pulled from shelters and are currently in or have graduated from the programs. Most of these have been adopted into forever homes.

It’s no secret that there are immense problems with our nation’s criminal justice system. In fact, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report on recidivism rates, seven in 10 incarcerated people released in 34 states in 2012 were rearrested within five years. Sadly, it’s no different here in Atlanta, where Fulton County Jail is frequently overcrowded and lacks the supportive services that incarcerated men need to break this devastating cycle.

Please let them know if you can help. Reach out to Melissa Smallwood at 404-402-9118.

For more information on this worthwhile cause, listen to our podcast interview: Canine Cellmates Offers a New Perspective. Tune in to the full interview to learn more about Beyond the Bars and Canine CellMates or visit Click here to explore volunteer opportunities!


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