Man's best friend and women inmates helping each other in Las Ve - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Man's best friend and women inmates helping each other in Las Vegas

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A Las Vegas women's prison partnered dogs and inmates to help each other. (FOX5) A Las Vegas women's prison partnered dogs and inmates to help each other. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Florence McClure Women’s Corrections Center in North Las Vegas houses some of the toughest criminals out there, but they also house another type one could call, their best friend.

The prison has been Erica Womack's home nearly five years. In that time, she said she’s watched a few roommates leave, but she has a special routine for when they part.

“You know, sneak them in a couple treats,” she said. “It’s pretty difficult to say goodbye.”

Once again Womack has a new roommate. They call her 'Honey,' but she doesn’t talk much.

“Honey is a wonderful dog,” Womack said.

The Nevada Department of Corrections partnered with Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, to teach inmates to train dogs. Womack is Honey’s handler.

“She’s a high energy dog,” Womack said. “So it’s a lot of work.”

Womack was arrested in 2012 for child neglect and said this program is teaching her about responsibility.

“You know, these dogs have taught me to set boundaries and skills that I can take out to society.”

Thirty dogs and 60 inmates live in a housing unit dedicated to rehabilitation. The women in the program said it’s both therapeutic and good for their mental health.

“These dogs come in broken just like us,” Melanie Sheaphard, another inmate in the program said. “As a brand new trainee that comes in, just like a brand new dog that comes in, the transformation is huge.”

The benefits don’t end with the inmates. The dogs benefit too. Since the program started at the facility in 2005, 3,500 dogs have found their forever homes.

“This program teaches commands when a lot of people don’t have time to train their dogs,” Womack said. “We train the dogs and we find them a home.”

The prison cell is a mock home environment for the dogs to learn how to stay alone for long periods of time. But most of all it’s a temporary partnership that is beneficial both ways.

“It’s really a selfless program," Womack said.

The Heaven Can Wait and Puppies on Parole program is raising money to fix their puppy play yard for the summer. The ground floor is black tar and too hot for the dogs' feet. Program officials said they hope to raise money to build a tarp to cover the area for the dogs.

To donate, contact Heaven Can Wait directly at: https://www.hcws.org/ or (702) 227-5555.

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