Many people are familiar with this program, as it has been featured in a series on Animal Planet and other TV documentaries. This is a program that is a winner for all concerned, and we will promote and participate in these programs whenever, and wherever, possible.
Dogs that are on "death row" at various shelters are saved and placed with carefully selected inmates in correctional institutions for a period of about 8 weeks. The inmates work with staff and outside volunteers, like us, to train these dogs in basic obedience so the dogs become more adoptable. Some of the dogs that demonstrate special temperament and aptitude can go on to more advanced training to become assistance or service dogs.
Who wins here?? EVERYONE... there are NO losers. The INMATES learn responsibility, how to love and be loved, and a trade that can be used to earn a living when they are released. It gives them a chance to perform a meaningful service to society. The STAFF at participating institutions report less discipline problems and a great desire by inmates to adhere to all the rules of the facility so as to not jeopardize their participation in the program. Needless to say, the DOGS win. They get to live, that's pretty exciting, (especially for them) and do what they are born to do... help humans! The FAMILIES who adopt some of these dogs win and, certainly, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES who receive the gift of a service or assistance dog are big winners as well.
These are three former cell dogs who went on to advanced training. Inmates provided the basic training for these dogs, who would have been gassed, if not for them and the program. In some mature programs, inmates provide the advanced training.
Roll your mouse over each picture to see the "before" and "after" images.
Since most institutions do not have extra funding for such programs, the programs are usually dependent on outside donations of time and treasure. Individual and corporate donations help to cover the cost of food, housing, vet bills, insurance, and transportation. All training is provided by volunteer trainers and helpers.
There are currently 65 cell dog programs operating in 26 states... from juvenile offenders to "lifers", and all report positive results. Officers and staff at these facilities soon become great fans of the program. There are also several successful programs within the federal correctional system.
K-9 Sarah (white dog in front) went on to become a seizure alert dog.
K-9 Luke (right rear) qualified for advanced training and became a service assistance dog.
K-9 Henry (center rear) is now a service assistance dog.
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