Two dogs said goodbye to their incarcerated trainers Friday morning as they received their diplomas for the Fostering Freedom program at the Bulloch County Jail.

These pups are the first to graduate the 8-week program in Bulloch County. Inmates spent most of that time with the dogs training them in basic commands and correcting behaviors that will help them seamlessly settle into the family that adopts them.

Murchinson sits with King during the Fostering Freedom ceremony. Credit: @bullochcountyfosteringfreedom on Facebook.

“This gives me a positive escape from the mental stress of being incarcerated the way I have and for as long as I have,” said Tyberious Murchinson, one of Bulloch Corrections’ dog trainers. “In a lot of ways I can relate to these guys. I’m being fostered and rehabilitated myself and gonna someday graduate.”

For this first round, Animal Services chose the dogs that kept getting turned down for the program, choosing a Rottweiler mix and a Pitbull mix.

“They bring like the worst of the worst.”

Murchinson is hopeful that next time the trainers will get the chance to screen the dogs before taking them on. These first two graduates are the first of 15 adoptable animals projected per year in the program.

Tiffany McBrayer holds Chief’s leash as she talks with Murchinson after the ceremony.

“You care about him and you love him and you know he’s not gonna be yours, but you came into it to make sure that he’s successful when he gets out, kind of like the way the administration staff does for us while incarcerated.”

At the end of the ceremony, Murchinson handed over Chief’s leash to his new family, the McBrayers. Chief is the McBrayer family’s third rescue dog.

“We would rather rescue from the shelter than get them from breeders and stuff like that,” said Daniel McBrayer. “And they’re giving the inmates something to do while they’re incarcerated. I think it’s great.”

Although Muchinson and the pups have to part ways, he wasn’t too upset, since he’s had prior experience in the program at other jails.

“I’ve gotten used to it now,” said Murchinson. “The first couple, you fall for them real hard… But at this point it’s kind of like, I still enjoy it a great deal but I kind of expected that… It’s more of a handing off of a gift.”