Roanoker Striving to Start New “Jail Dog” Program

  Roanoke Valley resident Rachel Burger would like to see more dogs released from area animal shelters, trained, and adopted to loving families. Burger who used to volunteer at one of the animal shelters in the area (she declined to say which one) said, “I just can’t bring myself to volunteer at the shelter here because I have a hard time.  I get attached to the animals, and I couldn’t go back in to a shelter knowing they weren’t there because they were being killed.  So this was something that I thought I could do that would be helping the animals.”

  Burger says with the program she’s starting she wouldn’t be bringing home “a ton of animals” to her husband.

  Burger got the idea for Roanoke Valley Jail Dogs in January but just in the last month or so she says it’s been picking up steam-slowly getting the attention of various animal rescue people.

  He idea is based on a program between an animal shelter and jail inGeorgia.  The inmates train the dogs. “The animals would go up for adoption once they’ve completed their training. “Burger doesn’t have any dog training experience per se, but she saw a television show about the prison pup program in Georgia “and I said, ‘why isn’t that here’?”

  She’s already lined up Hope Cogen from High Hopes Dog Training to be the trainer.  Cogan or someone at the shelter would evaluate and pull the dogs for the program.

  Burger hoped to get the program off the ground at the new Western Virginia Regional Jail but her request was denied because of the layout of the facility.

  She says money shouldn’t be a deterrent because theGeorgiajail she’s basing her program off of, doesn’t pay anything.  Money from the food, training, supplies, etc., all comes from a non-profit group.

  Burger says she’d like to start a non-profit, or perhaps have her program be part of a larger organization, such as Angels of Assisi.  She doesn’t want the cost of the program to be borne by taxpayers, either.

  It’s almost like the chicken and the egg.  She’s waiting until a jail accepts her program before she forms the non-profit but she may need to prove the cost of the program would be provided before such a program is approved in a local correctional facility.

  She also plans to contact an area  juvenile facility as well, hoping that might be an easier place to start the program than an adult prison.  “I just think this is a great program and it would really benefit the Roanoke Valley and the dogs here.”

 There’s already a Roanoke Valley Jail Dogs Facebook page and Burger says what she could really use right now is help finding names of people to contact at the area jails.  “I need an in,” she said.

Beverley Amsler