Inmates at Baker City's Powder River Correctional Facility have done a
variety of worthwhile tasks over the past 20 years, ranging from
fighting wildfires to landscaping the library and other public spaces.
But the latest job assigned to Powder River inmates, though perhaps not
the most important, certainly warms our hearts like no other.
Through a program started by New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals,
prisoners will help train abandoned dogs, many of which were abused or
The goal of the Powder Pals program is to correct the dogs' behavioral problems - problems that could discourage families from adopting the animals.
It's nearly a certainty that the program, and the efforts of the inmates, will spare dogs from euthanasia.
But beyond that obvious benefit to the dogs, we think the program has the potential to literally change the lives of inmates who participate.
Inmates can learn vital skills from working with abused dogs, including patience and selflessness.
The therapeutic value of having people spend time with dogs or other animals is well-documented. And Powder Pals could be of particular value for Powder River inmates, most of whom are being treated for alcohol or drug addictions.
We credit the efforts of Dick Haines and other volunteers who started New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals and have contributed to the Powder Pals program.
They pulled off a neat feat: taking two negatives - people who committed crimes, and dogs treated badly - and making something positive of the situation.