Force-free Education And Training Solutions
Inspired by the original prison pet partnership introduced to the Washington State prison for women by Sister Pauline Quinn in 1981, The Force-free Education And Training Solutions (FEATS) program teaches prison inmates to train and care for dogs as a way to provide inmates with valuable technical and interpersonal skills while increasing the adoptability of shelter dogs that may otherwise have been euthanized.
Using "force-free' training methods, each dog is assigned to a team of three inmates, a trainer, an assistant trainer and a care giver. The inmates, with their assigned dogs, attend weekly training sessions with a certified FEATS instructor and are responsible for continuing the dog's training throughout the week. For 8 weeks the dogs live full time with the inmates and become crate trained, house-trained, receive necessary socialization with people and other dogs and learn basic obedience including 'sit,' 'stay,' 'come,' and to walk loosely on a leash.
After graduating from the program the dogs are adopted by a family from the local community. The behaviors learned by the dogs are a great benefit for the adopting family and every dog will be spayed/neutered, current with their vaccinations and micro-chipped.
Inmate participation in the FEATS program is considered a privilege and only model inmates are accepted. This has proven to be a great incentive in prison communities for inmates to work hard to become eligible and stay in the program. Through these programs inmates have the opportunity to learn skills and responsibilities that benefit their life. Since the dogs live with the inmates they have plenty of time to work with and care for the dog.
In addition to the practical skills developed through the FEATS program, interacting with animals has been shown to have therapeutic value in a wide variety of settings including hospitals and schools and can help reduce feelings of isolation. Connecting with a dog has been shown to help promote a healthy mental state, ease boredom and restlessness and give purpose to everyday routine. Inmates have also reported feeling positive about giving back to their community by helping stray dogs become more adoptable and find a good home. In a more general sense, facilities benefit from FEATS dog training programs and many have reported a decrease in overall behavioral problems and improved public relations.
Current FEATS Dogs
Young adult neutered male Jack Russell Terrier
He gains more confidence every day, but still has a few fear issues and will need a home understanding of his needs that can provide him with enough exercise to keep him happy.
Approx 1 yr old M(N) pointer mix
Very sweet and laid back
Approx 2 yr old F(S) Husky mix
Shy but very sweet and smart
Approx 2 yr old F(S) Beagle
Loves to run and play ball
Approx 7 month old F(S) Florida Brown Dog
Approx 2 yr old F(S) Boxer mix
Very sweet and playful
Approx 2 yr old F(S) heeler mix
Approx 2 yr old F(S) Heeler/aussie mix
Very smart, loves to learn new things