Prison Dog Project
Sister Pauline Quinn introduced the
concept of Prison Dog Programs in which inmates learn how to train dogs to help
others. For more information, please visit her
Prison Dog Project. Here is Sister
Pauline's Golden guy
Wanting him to become a peacemaker, she named him Pax as this means "Peace" in
Latin. Pax is a public relations dog for the prison dog programs where inmates are
training or raising dogs to assist a disabled person. He also visits those who are ill,
the elderly, the poor and the unwanted.
Now, prison-hardened women and men are
learning to keep a commitment and to work and to be able to cry. And, the lessons are
coming from unexpected teachers, Golden Retrievers. In prisons, Goldens are raised before
receiving their final training as assistance dogs. After all, prison walls and a criminal
past history don't intimidate these canines. They see humans only as humans,
unconditionally loving and guiding them.
More and more prisons are
therefore inviting dogs to learn and teach good behavior.
You can see that these students,
both 2 and 4-footed, are very busy learning new skills at the Missouri
Department of Corrections Women's prison at the Women’s Eastern
Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia.
This is Kathy "Jay" Donohue. She got Golden Vereliza at 8 weeks of age. She will
keep her at the Oregon Women's Correctional Center until she is 12 to 18 months old and
ready to train as an assistance dog. This plan, in most cases, works. For example, about
72 percent of prison-raised dogs successfully complete the Pilot Dog program for the blind
in Ohio, compared to 60 percent raised in private homes. Twenty of the state's 29 prisons
raise puppies for its program. At a program in Washington State Women's Correctional
Facility, not one of the 20 puppy raisers who have been released has returned to prison.
That certainly shows how strong this dog-human bond is.
Puppy raisers must have a
good-conduct record. Here is Cara Gold working with Golden Retriever Amari. She has earned
this privilege due to her two years of good conduct. And, she has at least 1½ years to
serve which is needed in order to be with pup during his or her entire stay. Prison-raised
pups seem to be calmer and respond more easily and quickly to training and commands. This
is probably due to the 24-hour-a-day contact with their raisers. This program gives
inmates a better sense of responsibility as they learn to think of someone besides
themselves. At the Oregon Women's Correctional Center, the entire prison environment has
improved as the inmates have learned about responsibility and good work
ethics. And, this program is very much desired by many in the institution. In fact,
inmates who have caused problems in the past, now are working hard to improve their
behavior. They know that they need two years of good conduct just to be eligible to
participate in this program.
The puppies have a calming effect on
everyone, and the atmosphere is much warmer thanks to the Canine Companions for
Independence puppies. This picture from Oregon Women's Correctional Center shows Belinda,
Jay and Shelly with their Golden charges. Shelley's first CCI puppy, Tweed, graduated from
advanced training last year as an assistance dog for Stephanie, a wheelchair-bound
quadriplegic. Stephanie didn't take Tweed home right away. First, she and her husband and
two daughters wanted to see where he was raised and meet the inmate who raised him.
Shelley watched the family's joy and realized something very special. She knew that she
was capable of giving something positive back to the community. And, that the community
would someday be hers again.
Downeast Correctional... Bucks Harbor, Maine
ConFido Prison Dog Program in Rome, Italy at the Ribibbia Prison for Women.
These folks are training Assistance dogs for the disabled & saving unwanted
dogs at the humane society.
The President (in wheelchair) is Sirio Paccino.