The SPCA/Erie County Sheriffs’ PUPS AT THE PEN Program Returns to Erie County

MORO is the first dog to graduate after receiving eight weeks of intensive training by female inmates at the Erie County Correctional Facility

January 5, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Moro the dog prepares for his big Pups at the Pen graduation at the Erie County Correctional Facility Jan. 3, 2023

#SPCACompassionInAction — After almost three years on COVID hiatus, PUPS AT THE PEN, created by the SPCA Serving Erie County and the Erie County Sheriffs Office (ECSO), has returned to Erie County!

The program, originally started in July of 2016, established a partnership between the two organizations that, according to an ECSO press release, “…will bring new hope for inmates and sheltered dogs.” This program pairs selected female inmates with adoption candidates for several weeks.  During this time the inmates train the dogs, help with socialization skills, and provide care and attention throughout the program. The dogs live with the inmates in the housing area and the teams utilize parts of the facility for training, socializing, and recreation.

Eight weeks ago, Moro, a two-year-old dog surrendered to the SPCA in August, 2022 who staff felt would benefit from a higher level of training, began his in-depth behavior program at the correctional facility. There, he received not only behavior lessons but care, socialization, love, and attention from a loyal team of individuals committed to teaching this sweet dog new skills.

Moro passed his intensive training courses with flying colors and graduated with honors in a ceremony held at the Erie County Correctional Facility January 3. To ease Moro’s transition and keep his stress level low, Moro will be available for adoption not at the SPCA but at the home of a dedicated foster care volunteer. Those interested in meeting Moro for possible adoption can call the SPCA’s Behavior Department at
(716) 875-7360, ext. 268.

While his trainers taught Moro skills to prepare for his new life, they were learning lessons to prepare for their new lives. In fact, the trainers were so impacted by this program that at the graduation, SPCA representatives received this heartfelt letter signed by four of Moro’s teachers:

See coverage of yesterday’s emotional graduation ceremony on WKBW-TV Ch. 7
here >>

Since the program’s inception, more than 70 dogs trained by inmates have graduated and been adopted, one by Erie County Chief of Community Reintegration Tom Diina himself (see that story
here >>) ! In fact, in April of 2017, the first dog adoption that took place at the SPCA’s then-new 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location was a dog named Jed, a Pups at the Pen grad, who was adopted by his correctional facility trainer Mercedes (see that story here >>) !

Keep watching for news on the next dogs heading to the Erie County Correctional Facility later this month.