It may have been her pronounced underbite that kept Sparky from getting adopted. But now, the mixed-breed rescue is about to become a service dog.

New Leash on Life, which pairs adoptable shelter dogs with prison inmates, just received a $10,000 grant earmarked for female prisoners from The Transition Network, a group of professional women, through its fund at The Philadelphia Foundation, the group announced.

Sparky, one of the group's first graduates, and will soon become the service companion to a disabled woman, said Rob Rosa, Associate Vice President for Prison Programs for New Leash on Life. The 40-pound canine was a perfect match for the program, which looks for young dogs who want to learn.

Rosa, a former inmate at Graterford Prison, knows first hand the difference the dog training program can make.

He had an "ah ha moment" when he first received a shelter dog to train. Rosa took his two-year-old black lab mix, Terp, outside for a potty break when the dog vaulted the prison fence and raced down the road.

"I gave chase," said Rosa. With sirens blaring and lights flashing, Rosa was hotly pursued by armed prison guards in a truck until they realized it was the dog - not Rosa - making the break for freedom.