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Chillicothe, Ohio — Dogs for Better Lives (DBL) is thrilled to announce the successful graduation of Alder, the first puppy to complete its innovative Prison Puppy Raising Program at Ross Correctional Institution (RCI) in Ohio.

The program, designed to prepare puppies for future roles as Service Dogs for individuals with disabilities, engages incarcerated handlers in the training and development of these future service companions.

DBL Field Representative, Ashley, organized a special graduation day for Alder that combined a puppy class with friendly competition and handling lessons. The puppies in training showcased their skills on a rally course. Handlers showed immense pride in the progress of their puppy trainees. A celebratory event with wings and pizza marked the occasion as Alder graduated from the program.

DBL Puppy Alder poses with his Puppy Raisers at RCI

The emotional moment of Alder’s primary handler handing over the leash highlighted the bond formed during the puppy-raising journey. After the ceremony, Alder boarded a flight with a staff member to DBL’s Northeast Training Campus where he will begin his professional training to become a Hearing Dog, Facility Dog, or Autism Assistance dog.

Alder is a black Labrador Retriever that was donated to DBL from our partner, Guiding Eyes for the Blind. He joined DBL in March of 2023, spending time with a short-term foster, Kavya, until transferring to RCI where he worked with two handlers through DBL’s Puppy Raising curriculum.

The Prison Puppy Raising Program, a collaboration between Dogs for Better Lives and correctional institutions in Ohio, is a groundbreaking initiative that not only benefits the puppies but also provides valuable skills and positive experiences for incarcerated handlers. The program focuses on positive reinforcement training techniques and general obedience skills, laying the foundation for future Service Dog training at one of DBL’s campuses.

DBL extends heartfelt congratulations to all involved in this milestone for the Prison Puppy Raising program.

“We are so thankful to our partners at RCI for their support in this program. The handlers have been doing an amazing job, and the successful graduation of Alder marks the beginning of a promising journey for both the puppies and the handlers involved,” said Gwen Dudek, Vice President of Program at DBL.

For more information about Dogs for Better Lives and the Prison Puppy Raising Program, please visit dogsforbetterlives.org/prison-puppy-raising.


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.

Media Contact: Sara Ifert, sara@dogsforbetterlives.org, (774) 255-3518

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