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Ga. sheriff’s office suspends jail dogs program

The unit that houses the Jail Dogs program will be reallocated to some inmates who need treatment for long-term medical conditions

By Alia Pharr
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is temporarily suspending its Jail Dogs program as part of a renovation of the jail facility.

The program, a partnership between the sheriff’s office and the Society of Humane Friends, pairs dogs and cats with inmates who care for the animals and get them ready for new homes. The program has helped adopt about 1,500 dogs and cats since its inception, Chief Cleo Atwater said in a news release. It also teaches inmates vocational skills they can use after their release.

The jail has about 2,250 inmates, about a quarter of whom need treatment for long-term medical conditions, physical limitations, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol withdrawal and other advanced care. The unit that houses the Jail Dogs program will be reallocated to some of those inmates, who need direct access to the nearby in-house hospital, Atwater said.

The sheriff’s office searched for an alternative location for the Jail Dogs program but found no suitable options while the jail is being renovated, Atwater said.

“While the temporary suspension of the program is not ideal, it will allow us to ensure we provide an optimal environment for all inmates,” Atwater said in a statement. “This decision was made after careful consideration, and once it is feasible, the Jail Dogs Program will be reestablished.”

The jail is working to find homes for four remaining dogs: Kaiser, Nala, Rocky and Tien. Anyone interested should visit the Society of Humane Friends at

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