wp header logo 157

On Her Mind: Local dog grooming shop gives formerly incarcerated women a second chance – KOKI FOX 23 TULSA

Partly cloudy with a slight chance for a round of t-storms late. Winds S 5-10 mph..

Updated: June 7, 2024 @ 11:10 am
A south Tulsa dog grooming shop is giving women a second chance.
TULSA, Okla. — A south Tulsa dog grooming shop is giving women a second chance.
Muddy Paws gives women the training they need to land good jobs after prison.
Ten years after I put together a FOX23 investigation on the female incarceration rate, I’m finding out how things have changed and how programs like Muddy Paws are providing that second chance.
Kristen Suarez is the director of training at Muddy Paws. She found out about the program while serving a 15-year drug sentence.
“I was probably about 8 or 9 years old when I started smoking cigarettes and about 10 years old when I started smoking weed,” Kristen said. “By the time I was 13, I was a full-on meth user.”
Debbie Davis, executive director of Muddy Paws, also had a troubled past.
“I was involved with embezzlement and forgery and got a 28-year sentence, but I was released after seven years,” Debbie said.
Both Kristen and Debby give women going through the program hope to see what a second chance looks like.
“How hard is it to find a good job when you’re released? It’s very hard because not everyone is trusting of people,” Debbie said. “It’s very important to me to lead by example and offer hope and encourage the ladies and help them know anything can change.”
“If I can do it, they can do it, there’s no difference between me and them,” Kristen said.
It’s a four-month training program. Kristen and an assistant trainer oversee all students grooming the dogs.
Thanks to grants, donations and revenue from grooming, Muddy Paws provides women rent stipends, covers the cost of training, equipment, uniforms and anything else to bridge the gap and help women get their lives started outside of prison.
“There’s a lot of freedom in this career, there’s a lot of money to be made in this career, if you’re good at it,” Kristen said. “Everybody has dogs, there’s enough dogs to go around, and dogs are like our children, and if you’re good at taking care of them, and making them look fabulous, you can have a great career doing this.”
Debbie agrees.
“The grooming industry is just busting out, our ladies make upward of $25 an hour,” she said.
While Oklahoma no longer leads the nation, the latest numbers show our state’s female incarceration rate is still 226 percent higher than the national average, with 106 per 100,000 women behind bars.
Back in 2013, Oklahoma was locking up 127 out of every 100,000 women.
Debbie and Kristen said prison gave them an opportunity to learn more about themselves.
“If you take advantage of all the programs the doctor offers, you can come out on the other side and even be a better person, learn more about yourself so you can learn more about other people,” Debbie said.
“I got my GED in prison, I went to college in prison, I took lots of classes in prison and I became a teacher of many things in prison, I realized then that anything that I can do that I’m good at, I’m good at teaching it also, so it just kind of fell into place for me,” Kristen said.
The nonprofit ‘Pets Helping People’ started in 2009 and opened Muddy Paws Training Facility in 2010. Since then, 314 women have graduated.
“We’ve placed ladies in employment, Petco, PetSmart, all the local grooming shops here,” Debbie said.
She says 95 percent of graduates are working in the industry, not just here, but from Las Vegas to Branson and even Oregon. Thirty-three have even opened their own grooming shops.
Eight trainees are in the four-month program right now, and Muddy Paws can take a few more.
They have six full-time groomers. The work they do helps fund the program.
Trainees also use rescue and shelter dogs to learn techniques and make those dogs look their best, to increase the odds they’ll find homes. Muddy Paws grooms between 1,000 to 1,200 dogs a month.
“I drive home sometimes, and I just cry,” Kristen said. “I don’t know what I did to deserve this life but I’m here living it.”
Kristen’s been at Muddy Paws for eight years and said last year she was able to buy her first house.
On Her Mind is a weekly segment focused on issues that impact women every day. Make sure your voice is heard by sending any story ideas or comments to onhermind@fox23.com .
Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.
It’s time for Toast on Route 66 for this week’s Lunch on a Budget! Read MoreLunch on a Budget: Toast on Route 66
Ascension said the company has successfully restored Electronic Health Record (EHR) access ahead of June 14. Read MoreAscension restores Electronic Health Record Access after cyberattack
A McAlester resident accused of possessing child pornography was sentenced to two decades in prison. Read MoreMcAlester man gets 20 years in prison for possessing child pornography
 A Pittsburg County sheriff accused of financial fraud has been suspended.Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris appeared in court on June 6, where the court issued the order for the interim su… Read MoreCourt suspends Pittsburg Co. sheriff accused of financial fraud
A Claremore business is taking donations for those in need after severe weather devastated the town. Read MoreClaremore business taking donations for community
FOX23 Daily Forecast Read MoreFORECAST: A Hot Start to the Weekend
To help honor the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Circle Cinema hosted a Traveling Military Museum. Read MoreVideo: Circle Cinema hosts D-Day Remembrance event
A man climbed a Tulsa cell tower near I-244 and Sheridan on Thursday, which resulted in a huge response from area first responders. Read MoreVideo: Tulsa Fire help man who climbed cell tower come down safely
Spoke House Bicycles hosted the ‘Ride With The Pros’ event that lets amateur riders meet professionals and ride along with them through a 28-mile course in west Tulsa. Read MoreVideo: Local bike shop host unofficial kickoff of upcoming Tulsa Tough races
Oklahoma slugged its way to a record fourth straight NCAA softball title, getting a go-ahead, bases-clearing double from Cydney Sanders and beating Texas 8-4 on Thursday night for a two-game s… Read MoreOklahoma wins record fourth straight NCAA softball title, beating Texas 8-4 for 2-game sweep
The 21st annual Rumble & Roll rally had the bikers stage at the University of Tulsa then cruise down to Brookside led by a 5-year-old girl named Mila who is a Make-A-Wish recipient. Read MoreVideo: Hundreds of bikers gather in Brookside to raise money for Make-A-Wish
Spoke House Bicycles hosted the ‘Ride With The Pros’ event that lets amateur riders meet professionals and ride along with them through a 28-mile course in west Tulsa. Read MoreLocal bike shop host unofficial kickoff of upcoming Tulsa Tough races
Currently in Tulsa
Your browser is out of date and potentially vulnerable to security risks.
We recommend switching to one of the following browsers:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top