WATCH: Brevard County Jail Inmates Comfort Dogs at Animal Care Center During Fourth of July Fireworks

By  //  July 5, 2019

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dogs get anxiety and frightened because of fireworks and other loud noises on 4th of July

ABOVE VIDEO: Sixteen inmates from the Brevard County Jail in Sharpes spent the night of July 4 comforting dogs at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Animal Care Center off W. Eau Gallie Boulevard in Melbourne.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Sixteen inmates from the Brevard County Jail in Sharpes spent the night of July 4 comforting dogs at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Animal Care Center off W. Eau Gallie Boulevard in Melbourne.

“On the 4th of July with all the fireworks and noise going off, generally dogs seem to get a little bit anxious and a little bit frightened occasionally when the fireworks go off, so Sheriff (Wayne) Ivey asked if we could bring some inmates down tonight, get some inmates to volunteer, come down tonight, read to the dogs, comfort the dogs, let them walk the dogs, let them run a little bit, just have a good time to try to overcome that fear and anxiety when the fireworks start going off,” said Joe Hellebrand, director of the center.

Hellebrand noted that the activity is helpful for than just the dogs.

Inmate Josh Walter pets Vermont, a mixed breed dog at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Animal Care Center on July 4 (Image by Chris Bonanno).

“There’s two purposes here.” Hellebrand said.

“One of course is to comfort the dogs and to make them feel at ease but also our hopes (are) is that we instill a little bit of compassion in our inmates.”

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Hellebrand added that the program began after local residents expressed an interest in volunteering to comfort the dogs. That sparked an idea from Sheriff Ivey to have inmates volunteer to comfort them.

“It’s a win-win for our animals as well as the inmates,” Hellebrand said.

At least two local residents thought so highly of the program that they brought pizza for both the inmates and Brevard County Sheriff’s Office employees at the center.

“I really appreciate the inmates here snuggling the dogs. My dog is scared to death of fireworks and I do the same for her,” said Samara Zitnik of Melbourne Beach, who was accompanied by John Zitnik in the delivery.

Two residents and four BCSO employees pose after the residents delivered pizza on Thursday evening. From left to right: BCSO’s Hunter Reuter, John Zitnik, Samara Zitnik, BCSO’s Emily Gilbert, Olivia Cirello and Animal Care Center director Jospeh Hellebrand (Image by Chris Bonanno).

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