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Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS) recently launched a pilot program in partnership with Jail To Jobs, thanks to a grant from the Petco Foundation. Jail To Jobs is a local non-profit whose mission is to help justice-involved youth create a path to employment. At WCRAS, the youth are trained to help clean the dog kennels, assist staff with tasks as needed, and also help to train the dogs, which in return helps the dogs be prepared and ready for their forever homes. Together, the youth and the dogs learn valuable life skills that help each of them go on to brighter futures.
“The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter strives to do all we can to place dogs and cats on a path to a new life. It only makes sense to partner with a program that extends that mission to humans with the same ultimate need,” said WCRAS Shelter Director Misty Valenta. “A special thank you to the Petco Foundation for providing the funds to begin this partnership. This partnership will transform countless lives.“
“The partnership with the WCRAS is miraculous. I’ve seen hardened 22-year-olds become kids again, playing and training the dogs. I’ve seen dogs who were scared and nervous become puppies again, full of play and security. We are bringing together two populations that have been discarded by society. Two populations that have been hurt by people they trusted,” said Williamson County Director for Jail To Jobs Eddie Franz. “Together, they heal each other in profound ways. The animals and the youth become open to learning and are able to begin to put the past behind them. It is something I believe should be happening in every city across America.”
Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey has been a member of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter board since its inception in 2007. Most recently, she worked with both district and county court at law judges on a new pretrial department where she was introduced to Jail To Jobs.
“Upon seeing what Jail To Jobs had to offer our pretrial department, I quickly realized that they could also partner with our animal shelter,” said Commissioner Covey. “I believe this is a great opportunity for both the WCRAS and the employees that will be provided by Jail To Jobs. This mutually beneficial endeavor seeks to provide much needed services to our regional animal shelter while providing meaningful employment to youthful offenders and reducing the recidivism rates.”
The pilot program between WCRAS and Jail To Jobs is set to run for twelve weeks. If the program is successful, the shelter hopes to continue its partnership with Jail To Jobs. Community donations and the generosity of the Petco Foundation will fund the program for duration of this fiscal year.