Abandoned dog finds new life with help from prisoners, police

MALVERN (KATV) - Anni was just another abandoned hungry dog in the park before she got some unlikely help from some grateful animal lovers.

On Wednesday, she was adopted after a long road to recovery landed her under the care of inmates.

"How could you just abandon this dog?" asked Jeremy Kirbo, holding the dog in his lap. "I mean this dog was just roaming the streets."

Kirbo has been Anni's trainer while serving time behind bars at Ouachita River Correctional Unit in Malvern. He's one of about a dozen convicts taking advantage of the Paws in Prison program, now in its first year.

"We've not necessarily done right by the law out there and we're trying to maybe bring happiness," said Kirbo. "I feel like we're doing something, we're giving back to the community."

Kirbo and Anni have been inseparable since a Little Rock Police Department officer found her abandoned one night in a city park.

"I just came across her running around," said LRPD Officer Annette Harrington she just looked lost and scared and confused and I went over to get out with her and she came out running over to me and the connection was met."

The two were reunited again Wednesday to see the dog left for dead find new life with new, enthusiastic owners.

"First of all, being able to adopt a trained dog is just phenomenal," said Judy McAllister, holding her toddler James, "and second of all, the fact that it was being done by prisoners. Both aspects of it were really amazing to us."

One hello is another goodbye, however, as Kirbo admits giving up dogs like Anni is the toughest part of the program.

"We get them we get so attached to them," said Kirbo. "They live with us. They're with us all the time."

Anni is one of the lucky ones who were transferred from kill shelters across the state.

"It's heartbreaking to think of all the animals in kill shelters that are put down," said McAllister. "So the fact that these are getting a second chance and being adopted out is just awesome."

Even though it isn't easy for Anni's trainer, she's getting another chance just like Kirbo wanted.

"We know in the end they're going to a good home," he said.