PERFECT MATCH: Dog with special needs finally finds forever home after 5 years in jail program

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Bandit has been in the Gwinnett County Jail Dogs program, also known as Operation Second Chance, for about 5 1/2 years and returned three times. He was too tough for his new owners to take care of. But now authorities believe they’ve found a perfect match.

“When you look at Bandit, if he was human, he's me,” Darrell Rider said.

Rider has been paralyzed from his waist down since birth. He says it is that special connection he has with the 10- to 12-year-old dog that makes this adoption so special.

“Going through what I went through growing up, life wasn’t easy, but you just got to continue going forward. The things I read about Bandit… he just had the same mindset,” Rider said.

Channel 2’s Tony Thomas was there inside the jail Wednesday afternoon as Rider and his wife, Sue Rider, went to pick up Bandit. They said they had been thinking about the decision for a long time, debating whether they could handle Bandit’s special needs.

“This is something that would motivate Darrell, and it would help Bandit know he’s not alone out there,” Sue Rider said.

We first introduced you to Bandit back in 2017, just after he’d been returned to the Jail Dogs program again. For years, he’s been living with and trained by a series of inmates. His most recent handler has been Brandon Tredo.

“As soon as I found out he's being adopted, I’ve been trying to love him more. I mean, that's my friend,” Tredo said.

“How can you not fall in love with him?” Rider said.

Wednesday was a big day for Bandit for several reasons: Not only is he going to a new home, but he’s also going to meet at least three new brothers and sisters. He’s going to get to know them over the next few days.

[Learn more about Jail Dogs and the impact it has on inmates, animals and the families adopting them.]