CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Dogs were getting a chance at a whole new life for the 50th time.
"I feel I can give her love," Stephanie Booker said of the dog she will take care of for the next month. "We can give each other love and make it through a difficult time."
That time will get a little easier for inmates at the Chatham County Jail and the dogs that will be living there for the next four weeks as part of Operation New Hope, a program that gives the animals and their temporary caretakers a new and often needed structure.
"We're saving a dog's life just like the program is saving our lives in a way," said inmate Roni Sharp. "We're getting a new skill and we're going to be able to go out into the community and do better in life."
"Being able to nurture and give these puppies a second chance," added inmate Jennifer Kunkel, "gives me hope and faith that I also will have a second chance at life."
Over the last five years, hundreds of dogs have gone to jail on their way to a new home.
This is the 50th Operation New Hope class of dogs that will be cared for and trained by inmates before going up for adoption a month later.
"They sleep with them, they live with them and they care for them," said Pete Nichols, public information officer for the Chatham County Sheriff's Office. "During the day, those animals are with those inmates and I think it's a great opportunity for them to have that."
While the dogs' opportunity to go to a forever home arrives at the next Operation New Hope adoption event on Nov. 19, the time they spend at the jail could change the inmates forever as well.
"I think it gives me a purpose in life again," said Sharpe. "It helped me learn how to love and gave me a reason and shows that there is more to life than being bad."
"I'm going to go out there and use these skills I learned in here and apply them to life out there," added Kunkel. "I'm going to reestablish my career and reestablish my life."