Inmates of the California State Prison in Los Angeles County became temporary guardians of 50 deaf dogs due to the Sand fire that had consumed more than 58 square miles of dry brush, 18 homes, and displaced more than 20,000 in Santa Clarita. Lisa and Mark Tipton, the dogs’ caretakers and founders of Deaf Dog Rescue of America, made the decision to move all the resident pooches once the Sand fire started to move in the direction of the shelter. The pair had hoped to keep all the dogs together in one spot, but unfortunately, most shelters were only able to take in a maximum of 20 of the deaf dogs. So when Tipton got word that the prison would be able to take in all the pups, she couldn’t hold back her tears of joy. She and Mark drove 20 miles to the prison in order to drop the dogs off for the night.

Fourteen inmates from California State Prison participate in Paws for Life, a volunteer-driven program that aims to train and socialize dogs who have been deemed hard to adopt. 

Prisoners Provide Temporary Shelter to Deaf Dogs From Sand Fire (PHOTOS)

Once the inmates got word that they would be taking in 50 dogs displaced by the fire, they immediately got to work preparing the kennels. In a joint statement, the inmates detailed their experience, “For five days now, working 12 hours a day, we have bathed, groomed, fed and medicated each dog.”

Prisoners Provide Temporary Shelter to Deaf Dogs From Sand Fire (PHOTOS)




According to Lisa, when she and Mark returned to pick the dogs up, “every single dog had a smile on their face and was enjoying themselves. Even the pretty difficult dogs I thought would get snappy were thriving.”

This is amazing because among the 70 million homeless animals in the United States, pets with perceived imperfections – like these deaf dogs – have a tougher time getting adopted. But with plenty of patience and training, deaf dogs can become beloved members of our family.  While it might seem unexpected that out of all the places the Tiptons reached out to, a correctional facility was the only one to accommodate them, it should come as no surprise. The volunteers for the Paws for Life program have opened their hearts to all dogs who need just a little more love and attention — deaf dogs included.

All image source: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation