CONNELL — Convicted murderer Danny Manoi never thought his temper would allow him to share a cell with someone of a different race, let alone a different species.
Manoi, 44, has a violent history. He routinely assaulted other inmates and bucked authority, he said. He’s serving a 46-year sentence for killing an auto repairman in 1995.
“I wasn’t the nicest person,” he admitted outside his cell at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, a medium-security prison in Connell.
Now, however, there’s a Great Dane named Hannah in his life, part of a program called Ridge Dogs. Inmates train and rehabilitate rescue dogs from Benton, Franklin and Adams counties who are candidates to be euthanized.
Prison staff were hesitant at first about the idea of letting Manoi work with dogs. But they say he’s taken a “complete 360″ since joining the program.
Hannah, who sleeps on a mattress in Manoi’s cramped cell, strutted out from her bed to greet a group of visitors recently.
The tall black dog rubbed up against Manoi as he praised her for her welcoming demeanor. The high-pitched voice he used to show his approval provided a stark contrast to his bulky frame and prison tattoos.
“Very good,” he said, patting the dog on her head. “Very good Hannah.”
Manoi and 41 other prisoners rigorously train the dogs over a period of two to six months, sometimes longer, depending on the dogs’ needs. Each dog is screened beforehand for overly aggressive behavior.
The dogs are provided by the Benton-Franklin Humane Society in Kennewick, Adams County Pet Rescue in Othello and Forgotten Dogs in Kennewick. The agencies provide the food, as well as microchips, vaccinations, spaying and neutering.
The dogs are offered
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