YAPHANK, N.Y. — A new program is pairing a Long Island correctional facility’s inmates with shelter dogs that are looking for a home.

The pilot program at the Yaphank-area jail, Handcuffs to Healing, teaches inmates how to train shelter dogs and aims to make the dogs more adoptable. The six inmates selected for the program are all nonviolent offenders, and they spend three days a week with the animals during the six-week program.

Program founder Michael Gould said Wednesday that many of the dogs are classified as “bully” breeds, like pit bulls and Rottweilers. Gould says that they have a difficult time getting adopted because of their reputations.

After the current program ends, the participating organizations will discuss future plans. Gould says they are looking for corporate sponsors because of the program’s costs.

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