A middle-aged midwestern wife, mother of two, 4H dog project leader and purpose-needing community member, Toby personified conventionality. Then a stint with cancer drove her to make a difference by building the largest prison dog program in the country. Rather than euthanasia, Toby’s program saved more than a thousand dogs in eighteen months. Meanwhile, condemned men, many for the first time, were given responsibility and the reward of loving and training a dog. Toby cultivated thousands of relationships with families across the country who adopted well-adjusted pets from Safe Harbor Prison Dogs.
John Manard was tall, confident and cool, but more importantly, he noticed Toby. Talking, flirting and smoldering seemed innocent until she smuggled him out of Lansing Correctional Facility… in a dog crate.
A police helicopter’s spotlight burns with the intensity of the sun, slicing the darkest of Tennessee nights. A hundred law enforcement officers chased the doomed duo into a tree, a midnight crash at a hundred miles per hour. Toby prayed for God to let her die, but He had other plans.
She was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Toby relinquished her family, friends and career for a chance to feel truly alive. And when it seemed like her life was over, it was just beginning.
Since her release from prison, Toby remarried, completed two graduate degrees, built and sold a successful web design business. As certified mediators and trained Stephen Ministers, Toby and her husband started a non-profit group which mentors felons. She has also served as a board member for the Salvation Army and the Sedalia Symphony. Toby has made appearances on Anderson Cooper, Brooke Baldwin, Inside Edition, New York Daily News, local newspapers and speaks regularly to college classes, halfway houses, church groups and professional women’s organizations. Most recently, she was featured on an episode of the nationally popular podcast, Criminal.
Toby rebuilt her life, determined to follow God’s direction and use her story to make a difference in women’s lives. Her mission now is to serve and support women. When all seems lost, God gives second chances.
Her story provides inspiration and a road map to redemption.