Mekusukey Oil Company founder Duke Ligon established the Oklahoma City-based company in 1970 and possesses more than four decades of experience in the energy and oil industry. Duke Ligon also serves on the board of directors for Heritage Trust, which supports various community organizations such as New Leash On Life, which aids Oklahoma residents and their pets. Its programs include the Pen Pals Prison Program.
The program prepares shelter dogs for adoption through mutual beneficial training sessions with prison inmates, who provide the dogs with the necessary training to become well-mannered companions. Over the course of 10 weeks, participating inmates receive a dog to care for and train with the assistance of experienced New Leash On Life trainers. Dogs live in the cells with two inmates who share training responsibilities for house breaking, basic obedience, and correcting behavioral problems.
New Leash On Life trainers visit correctional facilities on a weekly basis to conduct dog-training classes and instruct inmates on training techniques and proper care. The organization also pays for all expenses involved in caring for the dogs, such as food, treats, veterinary care, and other supplies. A graduation occurs at the end of the 10 weeks, during which inmates will hand over the dog to its new owners and receive another dog to train.
In addition to helping shelter dogs who may otherwise have been euthanized, the program offers several benefits to inmates. Inmates who participate in the program receive an opportunity to contribute to the community and learn valuable skills of patience and tolerance. Training sessions also promote confidence and empathy, as inmates share emotions with the dogs they work with and develop new ways of relating to others.