SOLDOTNA, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska jail has started a program that provides well-behaved inmates with companion dogs.

Inmates at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, Alaska, now have the opportunity to take in a shelter dog if they meet certain criteria, KSRM-AM reported Wednesday.

Marianna Miranda, the jail's assistant superintendent, said the program so far has encouraged inmates to be on their best behavior.

"You know I got right now over 400 prisoners, and all of them want a dog — not that we are going to go that big," Miranda said.

To qualify, inmates have to have a year with no disciplinary issues, demonstrate they are working on a pro-social path and be employed, Miranda said.

The dogs are given to a primary handler and have two secondary handlers, she said. They sleep in their primary inmate's cell.

The program is funded by a fraction of the money that inmates make running a snack shack in the jail.

The first batch of dogs is from an overflowing shelter in Dillingham.