Dogs for Better Lives (DBL) recently placed the first puppies in its newly developed Prison Puppy Raising Program. The puppies will be raised by specially selected incarcerated handlers at Ross Correctional Institution and Madison Correctional Institution, both located in Ohio.
The Prison Puppy Raising program is a collaborative effort between DBL and correctional institutions in Ohio that aims to identify incarcerated individuals with interest in raising puppies that will one day work as Service Dogs. DBL staff teaches the incarcerated handlers to work with the dogs using positive reinforcement training techniques and general obedience skills that lay the foundation for future Service Dog training at one of DBL’s training campuses.
Programs like this have reduced the rate of recidivism – the tendency for convicted criminals to re-offend – for individuals who participate. By providing an opportunity for individuals to work with dogs, they learn patience, problem-solving, adaptability, and communication skills, all of which are essential skills in the workforce. These skills can help reduce the challenges many face when securing employment after incarceration.
In addition to marketable skills and the companionship of a dog, the raisers in our Prison Puppy Raising Program also experience the satisfaction of giving back – by helping to raise a future Service Dog who will go on to change the life of someone with disabilities.
“Dogs for Better Lives is such a valuable and meaningful program. The incarcerated persons will have the opportunity to give back to the community in a meaningful way and grow as individuals. Madison Correctional is very excited to welcome this new program,” said Madison Correctional Warden Jenny Hildebrand.
Puppies raised in correctional institutions get exposed to a wide range of socialization experiences, which is essential for their development. These puppies also receive love and attention from their handlers, which prepares them for their future as Service Dogs. On the weekends, puppies spend time with volunteer Puppy Raisers, receiving socialization and exposure to new experiences in the community while working on their foundational training in public.
“Puppy Raisers are essential to our growth as an organization. The more puppies we can place with raisers, the more potential future Service Dogs there will be. We are excited to see the positive impact this program will have on the individuals and dogs involved and on society as a whole,” said Bryan Williams, CEO at Dogs for Better Lives.
The Prison Puppy Raising Program is an innovative approach to enhancing the lives of both dogs and people, bringing together two organizations, DBL and correctional institutions, to achieve a shared goal of training the next generation of Service Dogs while reducing recidivism and providing marketable skills to individuals in the correctional system.
Learn more about the program on our website at dogsforbetterlives.org/get-involved
About Dogs for Better Lives
Dogs for Better Lives is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focusing on the professional training and placement of Hearing Assistance Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, and Facility Dogs and is accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and recognized by Charity Navigator as a top 4-star nonprofit. Dogs for Better Lives has trained and placed more than 1,600 dogs with people in need since 1977. Assistance Dogs are placed at zero cost to the client, thanks to donor support.