TAILS (Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills)


TAILS (Teaching Animals & Inmates Life Skills) is a collaborative effort bringing together prison inmates and hard-to-adopt shelter dogs. This is one of the largest programs of its kind in the country and fully implemented and paid for by Pit Sisters.

Through partnerships with city shelters across Northeast FL; State of Florida Correctional System; and Sheriffs’ offices, dogs are placed in correctional facilities to be trained, socialized and cared for so they have a chance of finding a new forever loving home.

Pit Sisters assesses dogs at the city shelters to find those who are in need of training and socialization and at risk of euthanasia. They provide transport to multiple correctional facilities in the northeastern United States.

TAILS benefits dogs, trainers, families, prison staff and entire communities. It has beneficially impacted behavior as inmates learn teamwork and empathy. The wardens have observed prisoners increasingly deal with problems by talking rather than fighting. Stress has been noticeably reduced.

Saving Lives From The Inside

TAILS not only has a positive outcome for dogs, but also a positive impact on the inmates who help them. One inmate, a Vietnam vet with PTSD, said the dogs have “opened up my wounds and let them heal from within.” Another expressed that the dogs “taught me to trust again.”

But perhaps one letter says it best:

“I came to this place full of hate and resentment. I have lost everyone and everything I ever had several times over. Why Lord, why am I here? And then He showed me. These wonderful creatures. All alone, locked up, for the sole crime of being born into a world that does not want them. Seen as mean and vicious, yet here they are, showing me what unconditional love really is and giving me back my heart. I hope and plan to help these dogs as long as God will allow.”

Our programs are focused on saving the lives of dogs and cats, and it is clear they are succeeding. All of the graduating TAILS dogs have found forever homes. Shelter deaths are down by 95 percent since we began just 12 years ago. It has also become clear that in saving pets’ lives, we save human lives.

Participating Institutions

TAILS is currently taking place in the following correctional institutes under the following names. Every program below is part of the TAILS program. A special thank you to the Best Friends Animal Society for its important help.

  • Baker Correctional Institution: Canine Assist with Re-Entry (CARE)
  • Montgomery Correctional Center: A New Leash on Life
  • Lawtey Correctional Institution: Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills
  • Bridges of Jacksonville: Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills

Sponsor a TAILS Dog


For $300 you can be the sponsor of a TAILS dog and save a life. You will be able to choose your dog, receive updates from the inmates about your dog, and attend graduation where you will meet the dog, the trainers and the new adopters. To sponsor a TAILS Dog, contact Jen Deane at jen@pitsisters.org.

Adopt a TAILS Dog

Finding a home for rehabilitated dogs is just as important as sponsoring one. Contact Jen Deane at jen@pitsisters.org to inquire about adoptable TAILS pets.