My first reaction when I heard that prison inmates were given puppies to raise was definitely a concern. Are the puppies being put in danger? And why are we giving someone who is serving time for crimes they have committed, something that I would consider to be a reward? Puppies are cute, lovable, and fun, and prison is supposed to be a punishment for crimes committed against humanity. But when I heard how Leader Dogs For The Blind is using inmates to teach their puppies basic obedience, manners, and socialization it made more sense to me. These men can donate 100% of their time and effort to these puppies. Even if you work from home, that isn’t always a practical expectation when you have life getting in your way and preventing you from putting all your effort into creating the best dog possible.
The warden at Fort Dodge Correctional Facility in Iowa came up with the idea of letting his inmates help with the program. At first the idea was met with resistance and hesitation, but they eventually decided to let Dennis Lass, an inmate who had been in prison for over 40 years, serving a life sentence, raise the first puppy and that puppy exceeded expectations. Now Leader Dogs For The Blind have puppies being raised by inmates in 3 different correctional facilities in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and those puppies have a higher success rate of graduating the program and actually becoming guide dogs for the blind.
The puppies are placed with the inmate when they are about 6 weeks old and stay for about a year. During this time, the puppies learn basic obedience and home manners, and are exposed to different situations so they aren’t timid in new situations. The inmates compete with each other on who can have the best behaved or well groomed dog, which ensures that they take their responsibilities very seriously. Raising puppies helps the inmates have a more fulfilling life, which allows for a peaceful prison as well. It teaches them what it is like to serve others and give back to their communities, and it doesn’t cost the state anything since all costs are paid for by donations to Leader Dogs For The Blind which takes care of the costs of the puppies, vet bills, and everything the puppies need. Purina has also donated dog food for the puppies to eat while training in the prisons.
The inmates come to love their puppies and it’s sad to say goodbye when the year is up and the puppy is ready for more extensive training to become guide dogs. But they feel the satisfaction in knowing that they are helping people with disabilities to live a more fulfilling life with the help of the dogs they had a large part in raising.
Plus the Prison Puppy Raising Program has helped the inmates. They are more peaceful and have better relationships with their guards. It gives them purpose and teaches them that they can do good in this world and they learn skills that they can use once released from prison. The prisons who are a part of the Leader Dogs For The Blind Prison Puppy Raising Program have a lower rate of inmates that are re-incarcerated after being released. Their return rate is 11 to 13 percent whereas other prisons have closer to 50% return rate nationwide.
Check Out The Video Below About The Leader Dogs For The Blind Prison Puppy Raising Program:
This truly is an amazing program that benefits all involved. It’s not a reward for those who have broken the law, but rather the ability for someone who has taken what isn’t theirs, that wind up in prison, the opportunity to give back and help others. The dogs benefit from constant training and love as well and are better, more well-rounded dogs that are better prepared to do the jobs expected of them once they are placed as a guide dog for the blind. I hope more prisons are willing to join the effort in raising puppies for the blind.
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