The Path to Home Program

Volunteers For Animals and Orleans Correctional Facility have developed a Dog Training & Fostering Program within the prison that will provide socialization and basic obedience training for the dogs before being adopted. Volunteers For Animals will be pulling dogs from high kill shelters and locally who may be in need of behavioral support to become more adoptable. The dogs will then be transported to Orleans Correctional Facility where they will live with selected inmates who will care for them 24 hours per day for approximately 12 weeks. Each dog will have a crate, bedding, leash, collar, training treats, and food provided by Volunteers For Animals.

A certified dog trainer will provide 1.5 hour formal weekly training class for the dogs, with extra sessions if needed, and the inmates will work daily to reinforce the formal training.  At the end of the training period the dogs will have an opportunity to take the test for "Canine Good Citizen." 

The dogs will go to Orleans Correctional Facility for fostering and basic obedience training. Currently, our foster program for dogs can only handle approximately 4-6 dogs which is done in private homes. There is no formal dog obedience training easily available in these private homes. This program will help us to expand the number of dogs we foster and care for within VFA, and help at-risk dogs become more adoptable.  All of our dogs in The Path to Home Program will be crate trained, have basic obedience skills, and good house manners.

Volunteers For Animals applied for and received a grant from Maddie's Fund in order to start this unique program. The grant has assisted in purchasing supplies, food and medical care for the dogs.

Adoption Procedures

The adoption process includes an application that is completed by the potential owner. If there are multiple applications on the same animal, the animal will go to the best home for that particular animal - not necessarily the first application. Fees for the Path Home animals are $200 per animal which needs to be cash or a check - NO CREDIT CARDS. All of the dogs are current on vaccines, heart worm tested and spayed/neutered.

If you would like to be considered for any of the dogs, please come to the shelter and complete an application. At the end of the training program, VFA volunteers will review the applications and contact applicants that seem most appropriate for the requested dog. Our adoption application is not available online or via email.  Please do not call the Shelter regarding Path Home animals - they do not have any information. 


All animals older than 3 months of age are given rabies vaccine. Unless there is proof of a prior rabies vaccine, the vaccine is good for one year. All animals are given at least one dose of deworming medication. All dogs receive a parvo/distemper vaccine which is good for one year.

Before You Adopt

You may want to take the time to read the Dog Adoption Bible provided free to the public by Mike Rogers. You may download it, share it and/or print it at no charge. It is specifically written for those who are adopting a dog for the first time but it can be helpful for everyone. The book was written to help keep shelter dogs in great homes which is what we all want to see.

8/9/18 Overview Update on Serena, Rattler, Will and Richie: The dogs and handlers have been through seven training sessions in the 1st 4 weeks of the program.  We have focused on the dogs attentiveness, walking nice on a leash, and an introduction to the basic commands of sit, down, come, stay and heel.  Aside from training we have worked with the handlers on how to best fulfill the dogs basic needs for work, play, rest and leadership. A balance of these four needs promotes a healthy happy dog that is more open to the training.  It is still a work in progress but all the dogs are off to a good start.  Below is a brief update on each dog.



Pit Bull Terrier Mix
1 Year Old/Spayed/Female
Estimated date of training completion - 10/8/2018

Tennis Anyone?

Serena is an athlete that enjoys nothing more than to play with her tennis ball all day long and then relax in the pool.  A little bit spoiled?  Perhaps!  Serena likes to play with other dogs and loves people.  She is very smart and catches on quickly to a routine.  Her dream retirement home:  a fenced in yard with plenty of tennis balls, maybe another dog in the house, a kiddie pool and YOU!  Is that too much for an athlete of her caliber to ask for?

  • 8/9/18 Update: Serena is loving both the human and dog attention she gets at the prison! Her strongest skills learned during her training so far are “sit”, “come” and “stay”.  She is going to be tightening up her “heel” and “down”. During evening play time, Serena enjoys playing with the other dogs.


Ratler fu.jpg


Lab Mix
1  1/2 year old Neutered Male
Estimated date of training completion - 10/8/2018

  • 8/9/18 Update: Rattler is a big, friendly boy who loves meeting new people and dogs. He has been playing with Serena and Richie.  His pulling during walks has greatly improved, and his handler is going to work at keeping his attention focused when given a command. We have seen great improvement in his first three weeks of training.

Will Smit.jpg


Lab Mix
1 year old Neutered Male
Estimated date of training completion - 10/8/2018

  • 8/9/18 Update: Will is a smart, friendly, and “talkative” boy who excels at training when there aren’t too many distractions.  His handler has made his crate more comforting so that he doesn’t bark at noises at night.  He is executing his commands nicely and always seems to have a smile on his face!

Richie SQ.jpg


Shepherd Mix
1 year old Neutered Male
Estimated date of training completion - 10/8/2018

  • 8/9/18 Update: Richie is not just a sweet dog, but is also a great pupil!  During the first couple weeks of training, he kept breaking out in bouts of “puppiness” during training, but he is showing improvement in that area, and it is clear that his handler and he are hard-working!