Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin

Canine corrections companionship

February 18, 2018

JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - The Rock County Sheriff's office welcomed its newest canine recruit to its Canine Corrections Academy today. The partnership with the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin brings in a dog, that is trained by an inmate.

Apollo, the year-and-a-half old wheaton terrier, had his leg amputated three weeks ago. The outgoing pup has been paired with Derrick Wetzel, an inmate in the Rock County Educational Criminal Addictions Program.

"He's definitely getting me a lot of attention around the jail," said Wetzel.

Wetzel said his work with the program is a first step for him in pursuing a long-term goal.

"Its actually a really great thing for me because I want to volunteer to train search and rescue dogs and I feel like the staff here, by selecting me, gave me a wonderful opportunity to get started towards that goal."

Apollo and Wetzel start and end each day together.

"Well we wake up, 4:00 am every morning. I take him outside. I run with him a little bit to get his appetite going and we come back in, eat breakfast," said Wetzel. "We spend 24 hours together. He sleeps right next to my bed in a crate."

According to Wetzel, having a canine presence lifts spirits in the jail, but Commander Troy Knudson says bringing the dogs in also serves as some inspiration to inmates.

"They're having to deal with issues of their own. Addictions, some of them are going through counseling and they're having to dredge through some stuff in their lives and I think by having this dog there it brings that calm to the unit. To see how the dog has overcome some serious adversities and still maintains a very positive disposition. It makes for a very nice match for inmates that are trying to makes some positive changes in their lives," Commander Knudson said.

Apollo is the 19th dog to enter the Canine Corrections Academy. Wetzel trained one dog through the program before Apollo. Knudson said a few dogs have been adopted before completing the training program and earning the "Canine Good Citizenship Designation." Knudson said Apollo is a great candidate to earn the award, but that he might get adopted before he can get that far.

Though Apollo is up for adoption, Wetzel isn't quite ready to part with him.

"We've definitely created a bond together and its going to be tough to let him go," Wetzel said.

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