What’s your passion? Volunteer work? Helping others? Helping animals? Have you acted on that passion? Lisa Gibson, our Jenesis and Agency Advantage Implementation & Support Manager, has found a way to do it all and her story will inspire you!
Lisa volunteers with the Gwinnett County Jaildog Program, which is part of Operation Second Chance, in Lawrenceville, Georgia. She and her daughter, Alyssa, have been a part of this program since 2018. The Operation Second Chance program was established as a partnership between the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and the Society of Humane Friends of Georgia. Inmates are trained by professionals and given the opportunity to provide foster care and obedience training to the homeless dogs of Gwinnett County. This program offers both the inmates and the rescue dogs a second chance on life.
Because the volunteer program is at the Gwinnett County Jail, Lisa went through an extensive background check, fingerprinting and classes. Lisa is an Adoption Counselor and reviews all adoption applications for the program. She completes vet checks of potential adopters to make sure their current pets are up to date on vaccinations, heartworm preventative and are spayed or neutered. Once an application has been approved, it’s a happy day! The next step is to share the news with the adopter and schedule meet and greets.
Meet and greets happen during the week and are managed by volunteers and a deputy on site. If all goes well and there’s a match, Lisa handles the adoption process each Saturday and has the joy of handing over a sweet pup to it’s new family.
A highlight of Lisa’s work is going into the Jaildog Unit to meet the new pups and to speak with the handlers about the dogs and their personalities in hopes of finding the best match for their future new family. The handlers are inmates who have been pre screened and trained to work with these dogs. Lisa also helps with photoshoots, facebook and website updates, and adoption events. Sometimes, finding the right home can be hard and takes effort, patience and persistence.
Rewarding moments are the “pupdates” from families and seeing the pups living their best lives. When these dogs have been discarded from a shelter or have come from neglectful circumstances, Lisa says, “finding the perfect loving family just melts my heart!” Many adopters have included their adopted pups in their weddings!
The Jaildog Unit houses non-violent offenders. Lisa has never felt unsafe when in the unit and a deputy is always with her and all other volunteers. As far as working with rescue dogs, there is always a risk when working with any animal. You learn to read a dog’s body language. The handlers look for behavioral issues the dogs may have and work with them on those. Basic obedience and house training is completed with all dogs in the program. As inmate handlers learn more about each dog, Lisa and the handlers decide on a type of household that will best fit each dog. Some dogs must go as the only pet in the household and others may not do well in a home with small children. The program provides a chance to identify these things and find the right home.
Lisa found this opportunity by reaching out to a friend who was volunteering with the Jaildog Program. She encourages those who would like to volunteer to reach out to local rescues and shelters for volunteer opportunities. She also welcomes any questions about volunteering and you may email her at email@example.com. To learn more about the Gwinnet County Jaildogs Program and Operation Second Chance, go to https://www.gwinnettcounty.com/web/gwinnett/departments/gwinnettcountysheriff/inmateservices/jailprograms/jaildogscatsprogram and www.jaildog.org. Operation Second Chance has a similar program for cats. The Jaildog Program has an excellent Facebook page with daily videos of the dogs being trained. If you love pups, you will love following their Facebook page.