Felon uses dog training skills learned in prison to better his life

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A former felon now a free man is using a skill he learned in prison to better other peoples lives.

“People come back to A.D.C. because they don’t have anything to do so they turn to other things. Things that they use to do,” said Steven Neal.

Steven Neal spent almost 17 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction but 7 of those were spent in the “Paws in Prison Program.”

“Paws in Prison actually saved my life. It actually put me on the path to do what I loved most which is actually train dogs,” explained Neal.

Neal was highly regarded for his work in that program after he trained multiple shelter dogs before they found homes in Central Arkansas. Neal got out a few months ago. Since then he has struggled to find a job due to his past. He did not let that discourage him. He decided to use his passion for pets to aid in his job search.

“He is working really hard and trying to do the right things, the right way and he deserves a second chance,” explained Laura Cooley who hired him to train her dog.

“All I’ve had are great feedback opportunities about Steven about what a great job he is doing and how amazed they are that their dog can learn,” said Brenda Guillet who has helped Neal find clients.

Neal says he is committed to making dog training easier for anyone who is willing to hire him. He also is committed to staying on the right path and is forever thankful to everyone giving him a chance to prove himself.

“I’ve got a support system now that you can’t beat it and I’m not going to let them down. I’m going to move forward with them,” said Neal.

He hopes one day to have his own training facility and to employ other former prisoners who are looking to better their lives.

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