Prison Dog Project
In 1981 Sister Pauline Quinn introduced the concept of Prison Dog Programs in which inmates learn how to train dogs to help others. For more infpaxpray.jpg (9529 bytes)ormation, please visit her Prison Dog Project. Here is Sister Pauline's Golden guy Pax praying. 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 1 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.