Former inmate adopts dog she trained behind bars


WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB)- It was a heartfelt reunion at the Erie County SPCA Monday afternoon.

Generally timid and afraid around people, lab-mix Jed immediately recognized Mercedes Castillo.

Sporting his spiffy bow tie, he even dressed up for the occasion; Castillo adopted Jed, making him the first adoption out of the SPCA’s new West Seneca location.

The pair met when Castillo was serving time at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden.

“The last time I saw him was when I left, the 11th,” the 19-year-old told News 4.

While behind bars, Castillo qualified for the ‘Pups at the Pen’ program, sponsored by the Erie County SPCA and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.MORE | Inside Pups at the Pen Program

The program pairs female inmates with dogs who need a little extra care before they’re ready to be adopted.

Jed was rescued from a shelter in Arkansas. He had a hard time socializing, and wasn’t ready for another shelter environment.

“This was a way for him to get this 24-7 attention,” said Barbara Frazier, the Behavior and Training Supervisor at the Erie County SPCA.

Instantly, meek little Jed found a friend in Mercedes. She said the two clicked right away

“He was the first one to open up to me and we were just off the bat in-sync,” she said.

Mercedes helped Jed learn to trust; the puppy is still shy around strangers. She also house trained him, walked him, and fed him everyday.

In return, Jed helped give Mercedes purpose behind bars.

Monday afternoon, Mercedes started her life on the outside with her four-legged friend, who now has a forever home.

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