Paws for Life K9 Rescue Program is Changing Hearts in an Unlikely Place
Jon Grobman is dog dad to a 4-year-old therapy dog named Mallie, and the Director of Programs for Paws for Life K9 Rescue. Paws for Life is an animal rescue program that focuses on getting dogs out of high intake shelters and placing them with incarcerated trainers who train the dogs to become more adoptable.
"Our mission is two-fold," Grobman tells Daily Paws. "One, we are saving the lives of animals, but we are also heavily focused on rehabilitation and transformation within the California penal system."
Grobman first joined the Paws for Life program as an incarcerated trainer while serving six consecutive life sentences. Grobman eventually became the first person to receive a recall of commitment in the state of California—and once he was paroled, he made the decision to join the team and keep working with Paws for Life.
"I was so heavily impacted by the unconditional love of an animal that it really started to change how I saw myself," Grobman says.
Mallie is the last dog Grobman trained while incarcerated—and the two became so close that she became despondent and stopped eating after Grobman was paroled. When Grobman learned how Mallie had responded to his absence, he reached out to his parents who agreed to welcome the rescue dog into their home.
"When we're rescuing dogs out of shelters, these dogs are often broken and damaged and have endured incredible trauma and hardship," says Grobman. "It's very often the parallel to people who are incarcerated. We got each other through really, really difficult times."
Today, Mallie works as a trained service dog who can perform tasks like deep pressure and can also retrieve items like medicine. Grobman takes her to hospitals and rehabilitation centers where she shares her affection, love, and unique ability to make people feel special.
"Every pet owner would probably tell you they have this incredible bond with their dog, but when you're in the most vulnerable and broken position of your life, and you've hit rock bottom, here is this animal that looks back at you and doesn't judge you," says Grobman. "They look back at you like you're human. And the human element is something that's missing inside our prison system."