Zach Skow is the founder of Marley’s Mutt’s Dog Rescue, an organization that he started 14 years ago. He spearheaded a program called Positive Change, which aims to rehabilitate and train rescued shelter dogs alongside inmate trainers in the Tehachapi State Prison. In this program, ten dogs are taken off the euthanasia list and brought into the prison to be trained and rehabilitated by teams of three inmate trainers. The goal is to provide a second chance for both the dogs and the inmates.
In the Tehachapi State Prison, Zach Skow had set up a program that involved rival gang members of different races residing in a prison pod filled with dogs. The inmates engage in various training activities, coursework, presentations, and hands-on work to ensure that the dogs are prepared for adoption. The primary objective of the program is to rehabilitate the inmates and provide them with skills and qualifications to enter the pet industry upon their release. Positions such as kennel technicians, dog trainers, and dog walkers are among the many opportunities open to them.
While not all the inmates may choose to pursue a career in dog training, the program also serves as a form of empathy training. Participants learn to prioritize the well-being of the dogs over their own needs and to cultivate a sense of responsibility and understanding for another living being. This shift in perspective is invaluable, especially for individuals facing addiction and struggling with self-obsession, as it allows them to develop a greater understanding of the world and themselves.
The togetherness of the Tehachapi State Prison and Marley’s Mutt’s Rescue Ranch is noteworthy. The rescue ranch, spanning 20 acres, shares a border with the prison, making it a logistic support center for the three state prison programs operated by Marley’s Mutt’s Dog Rescue. Alongside the Tehachapi State Prison program, there is also a women’s federal program in Victorville and two juvenile programs, one for girls in Malibu and the other for boys in an undisclosed location.
Through these programs, Zach Skow and Marley’s Mutt’s Dog Rescue are creating positive change, not only for the dogs that are given a second chance but also for the inmates who are provided with the opportunity to rebuild their lives. The impact of this work extends beyond the walls of the prison, with potential benefits including reduced recidivism rates and a chance for inmates to reintegrate into society as productive members of the pet industry. Zach Skow’s dedication to transforming lives through the love and care of dogs is truly remarkable.