Rescued prison dogs provide companionship for Iowa inmates

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FORT MADISON, Iowa -- For the first time, a pair of dogs call the Iowa State Penitentiary home.

Earlier this month, the prison in Fort Madison, Iowa, adopted two dogs from PAWS, a no-kill animal shelter. Correctional counselors quickly chose appropriate names for the duo -- Thelma and Louise.

The dogs live in Housing Unit 4, which is a medical/assisted living unit.

"I think they're the best part of waking up. It's amazing to have them here," said Luther Glanton. "I think they affect everybody's moods and attitudes. People smile a little more."

Glanton is serving a 15 year sentence for drug charges, but says the dogs show affection regardless of a person's past.

"They love you no matter what. They're unconditional," said Glanton.

Counselors at the prison say the love and attention has been good for both the inmates and the rescue dogs.

"I've had many comments about, 'I haven't pet a dog in 10 years or 15 years,' and just being able to show affection, I think it's very beneficial for them," said Angela Roller, a correctional counselor. "Offenders get to actually take care of something, love something, have feelings for something."

Offenders like Glanton are chosen to walk the dogs, feed them, and bathe them.

Money generated by the offenders is used to pay for food and other pet expenses, so no state money is being used.