The program, called Canine Corrections Academy, requires Rock County jail inmates to train formerly unadoptable dogs, getting them ready to be adopted in six to eight weeks, according to the Janesville Gazette.
"People deserve second chances. Animals deserve second chances," said Sheriff Robert Spoden.
Many inmates have never completed anything in their lives, Spoden said, and the program will give some of them an opportunity to realize they can be productive members of their communities.
Inmates are chosen for the canine program through interviews. Their crimes must not include violence or abuse.
The program comes at no cost to taxpayers, Spoden said. Simmons Fence of Janesville donated a 50-by-30-foot enclosure. Two trainers are donating their time and the humane society supplies the dog food.
The dogs will be housebroken and taught to come when called and to sit and stay on command.
The dog will live in the jail unit for the Rock County Education and Criminal Addiction Program, known as RECAP, where it will be caged at night. About 30 inmates live in the unit.
The dog will not interact with inmates in other jail units.
A dog named Duke, a mutt that resembles pit bull or rottweiller, and an inmate named Ryan Lambert were the first to be chosen for the program.
Lambert, 25, said he was in jail for violating probation. Duke was a stray who fled from law enforcement and the humane society captured him.
Lambert said he knows he will bond with Duke.
"It's part of the job," he said. "I won't say I won't get attached. But the goal is to get him adopted. That's what we're going to do."