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About Paws in Prison

Mission statement: Paws in Prison educates female inmates for greater responsibility and empathy through the rescue and training of shelter dogs to be adopted by the public.
See how it all happens in this 4 minute 16 second video!

In December 2007, an amazing program, Paws in Prison (PIP), was established by Machellle Gaconnet in the Lockhart Correctional Facility in Lockhart, Texas. This program pairs rescue dogs from rural kill shelters with female inmates who learn to care for and train the dogs who are then adopted by the general public. Since then over 400 dogs have been placed into forever homes and many of the inmates go into animal-related occupations after their release.  Sadly Machelle, who the inmates lovingly called Ms. G, passed away in September 2019, but her mission to rescue dogs and the women who train them lives on.
This amazing program works with a 4-way mission to:

  • rehabilitate female prisoners
  • save shelter dogs from euthanasia
  • train a loving family pet for adoption
  • provide communities with productive ex-offenders




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Many of these women have experienced trauma from physical and/or sexual abuse.  Most are mothers. Throughout the training, inmates are given guidance and encouragement. In the training process, as their testimonials state, these women learn valuable life skills such as patience, responsibility, accountability, and empathy. ​​​​​

Serving Lockhart, Seguin, San Antonio, Austin and surrounding areas,  Friends of Paws in Prison  is the 501(c)3 nonprofit set up to financially support the Paws in Prison program.  The program does not receive any funds from your tax dollars, and in fact saves tax dollars, because the ex-offenders who participated in Paws in Prison rarely return back to prison. Funding relies totally on grants and charitable contributions that pay for vet bills, program expenses, and pet supplies.



W​e have a great Paws in Prison program at the female prison in Lockhart, Texas, however, we can make it even better.  With proper funding, we can grow the program to its maximum capacity, bringing in more rescue dogs and more trainers to train the inmates.  

In addition, we have plans to start a scholarship program to send parolees to school to become certified as vet technicians, vet assistants, dog groomers and dog trainers after their release from prison.  


Our goal is not just to continue this incredible program, but to grow it to its maximum capacity, saving more than dogs!

Existing Projects and Future Plans​​​