RYAN TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A show known for rescuing and rehabbing dogs was in part of Schuylkill County filming a future episode at two prisons.
"Pit Bulls and Parolees" airs every weekday on Animal Planet and is centered on the work of Tia Torres. She works alongside her daughters and felons on parole to rescue, retrain, and rehabilitate dogs with the hope of finding them a new home. On Wednesday, they partnered with a Pottsville nonprofit for a future episode.
"I don't like to get emotional, but it's saving us right now. This program is saving us. We are drowning in dogs," Torres said.
"Pit Bulls and Parolees" has been on the air for about a decade.
"As people know in the south, there's a lot of dogs down there that need help, so they invited us to bring a group of dogs up here to go into their program," said Torres.
It's the DAWGS Prison Program that Torres is referring to, which was started in Pottsville five years ago by Amy and Steve Eckert.
Torres and her crew were in the Frackville area shooting a future episode for the show that airs every weekday on Animal Planet.
"We pull dogs from high-kill shelters as well as overwhelmed rescues in the south, so we pay to transport them up. We get them fully vetted so they're spayed and neutered, microchipped, everything is done, and then they're placed at one of our three prisons that we're partnered with," Amy Eckert explained. "They're paired up with two handlers, which are inmates, and then the inmates train them for four weeks in basic obedience commands. Once they're done their program, they're available for adoption to the general public."
Torres and members of the "Pit Bulls and Parolees" crew drove all the way to this part of Schuylkill County from their Villalobos Rescue Center in the New Orleans area, about an 18-hour drive.
Torres brought 19 dogs to State Correctional Institutions Frackville and Mahanoy.
While this program gives dogs proper training, it is also therapeutic for the inmates.
"The feeling of success and accomplishment and learning how to be compassionate and caring about something other than yourself, which prison can do to a person," said Torres.
"They have to assume a hard persona to survive inside and endure that time. Having a dog allows them to tap into the softer side of their humanity," Steve Eckert said.
The dogs spend about four weeks with the inmates before being put up for adoption to the public.
There is no word on when this episode will air, but Animal planet Says hopefully by the end of 2020.
For more information on DAWGS Prison Program, click here.