Actress Kate Mara To Pay Adoption Fees For 10 Dogs Who Graduate Canine CellMates In Need Of Loving Forever Homes

Ten dogs are in need of forever homes after they were selected from the hundreds of dogs at Fulton County Animal Services, a high volume, open intake county shelter, to participate in alternative sentencing programs run by the nonprofit Canine CellMates. The organization pairs dogs to be trained by individuals charged with felonies under supervision.

To assist in placing the dogs as soon as possible, Kate Mara is partnering with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to promote the benefits of alternative sentencing programs and covering the adoption costs of the remaining dogs. Specifically, Mara called the humane community in Atlanta “one of the best in the country; constantly seeking innovative ways to create opportunities for people to experience the unconditional love of an animal.”

Recently, the lease of the facility that Canine CellMates had been utilizing ended and the building was sold, leaving the nonprofit without a headquarters. Thankfully, the rescue dogs have temporary housing, however, the organization is anxious to get their graduates placed while they look for their next permanent facility, which will also serve as a training center. A new facility will allow Canine CellMates to pull more eligible dogs from Fulton County Animal Control and offer them and criminal defendants a second chance at life.

“We are so grateful to Ms. Mara for her support of our Canine CellMates program and her concern for the well-being of the dogs who play such an important role in helping people transform their lives. While Canine CellMates leadership works to secure a permanent home for the program, we are glad to know that these dogs will be placed in permanent homes through Ms. Mara’s financial support of their adoption,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said in a statement.

The Canine CellMates program began in 2013 and is run in coordination with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and Fulton County Sheriff’s Department. The program pairs dogs with inmate handlers inside Fulton County Jail for a 10-week rehabilitative timeframe. In 2021, the organization introduced Beyond The Bars, an alternative disposition program that operates outside of the jail, pairing rescue dogs with individuals charged with felonies and released from custody contingent upon participation in the program. During the year-long course, the men develop the tools they need to break the cycle of criminal behavior, while the dogs learn the skills they need to succeed in their forever homes. The men with open cases, once facing lengthy prison sentences, have their cases closed at the end of the program.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund partners with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office touting the success of the program. The organizations promote alternative sentencing and advocate for similar solutions to decrease recidivism rates at conferences and trainings across the country. Additionally, the program saves the county tens of thousands of dollars annually in jail, court, and supervision costs, as well as veterinary and sheltering costs for the rescue dogs.

“In fighting animal cruelty, a lot of our work focuses on the way animals and humans impact each other’s lives,” stated Animal Legal Defense Fund Managing Attorney David B. Rosengard. “Here, everyone involved, dog and human, is a testament to the power the human-animal bond can have to improve and save lives. Humans who would otherwise be simply serving time are instead able to hone skills that will help them avoid recidivism. Dogs are pulled from the crowded shelter system and are able to gain new skills and become members of forever families.”

Out-of-state applications are accepted and photos, videos, and profiles of each dog available for adoption are available at www.caninecellmates.org. All dogs are fully vetted and up to date on their vaccinations.

Canine CellMates is looking for a permanent facility in Fulton County, Georgia, to house their rescue dogs and continue this important program. If you are interested in donating space, please contact susan@caninecellmates.org.

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