PUPS AT THE PEN Trainee Sora Receives the Best Graduation Gift of All: A New Family!
January 21, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca
Erie County Jail Management Superintendent Tom Diina adopts inmate-trained pup
More than 50 dogs have graduated from the locally-dubbed “Pups at the Pen” program sponsored by the SPCA Serving Erie County and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. But it took one dog’s eyes, resemblance to a pet recently lost, and charisma that jumped right out of the photo to catch the eye…and heart…of Tom Diina, Erie County jail management superintendent.
Pups at the Pen began in the summer of 2016 and allows dogs from the SPCA Serving Erie County to reside with female inmates at the Erie County Correctional Facility. The women are trained by a professional dog trainer to work with the dogs, providing a level of behavior lessons and attention that wouldn’t be possible in a shelter setting. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office credits the program as leading to better behavior by inmates at the facility and a reduced re-offense rate, while it helps shelter dogs learn important behavior lessons that contribute to faster adoptions.
In December, Sora, a one-year-old brown-eyed girl, was sent to the correctional facility as the SPCA’s latest Pups at the Pen candidate, and it didn’t take long for staff there to send Diina photos of their newest temporary resident. Noting a resemblance to a pet to whom the Diina family recently had to say sad goodbyes, Diina decided to meet Sora. The connection was immediate and led to the best grad gifts Sora could have hoped for six weeks later on graduation day: a new family and a new home!
Jan. 20, 2020 — Sora is the newest family member of the Diina family! Here, she and dad Tom prepare for the ride home from the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden!
With the help of the SPCA’s Matt Cicatello and trainer Melissa Staniszewski of Sit n Stay Pet Services in Orchard Park, Monday’s graduation ceremony and adoption turned into a heartwarming story shared locally and by media outlets throughout the nation on Monday!
After two days in her new home, Diina tells us Sora has already made their home her own and is keeping her new four-footed sister, Marci, very busy!
Check out some of the stories as told by Newsradio 930 WBEN, WIVB-TV, WKBW-TV, Spectrum News, and just a few of the other news outlets elsewhere in the country that carried the story:
– ABC7 in NYC
– KMOV4 in St. Louis
– CBS 46 in Atlanta
For more information on Pups at the Pen or SPCA adoptions, please contact the SPCA Serving Erie County at 716-875-7360.