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Puppies Behind Bars makes me feel like I’m on Cloud 9 because of all the hard work that goes into the dog. My name is Edwin and this is Mr. Bently and he is 16 months old.
Puppies Behind Bars is a program which trains inmates to raise Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever puppies to become service dogs for the disabled and explosive detection canines for law enforcement.
The puppies enter as 8-wwek-old puppies. They are all Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. They live with their inmate puppy raiser and they begin their training. Service dogs are in training until about 18 to 20 months to master about 80 different commands. The dogs go back to the service dog school for fine-tuning of different skills. Then the disabled person goes to the service dog school and lives at the school to learn how ot work with that individual dog. After another two to four weeks they begin their life’s work.
When they’re here, they don’t realize they’re in prison. This is home. They are happy to be here. They are well loved, nurtured, cared-for puppies.
Twenty-four hours a day, he is with me, in my care. I’m responsible for his feeding and grooming, his training, everything.
My name is Gilbert Molina. This is Faith. She is 11-weeks-old. After about 13 years in prison, I haven’t seen a dog in a while and I wanted to learn something new and do something positive. I gave it a try and now I no longer participate, I live for it now.
I look at him as my son. Everything I plan is about him. I put his needs before my own. I put away that selfish attitude I had in the past for the sake of the dog. It makes me a different person.
This is another way to better myself and not just be idle in prison.
Annabell has taught me so much about myself. Its taught me patience and how impatient I was. Everyday with her is teaching me more and more about myself. I’m Sergio, this is Annabell. She is five months and five days old. A lot of guys feel bad when they have to give the pups up. I don’t because I feel that it’s my chance to help someone who is less physically capable. I don’t like her hearing me say this. I look at her as a tool that I am honing for someone who can’t provide for themselves.
It is a very difficult day when the dogs leave. They always cry and for many of them it is the first time they have cried in years. This is a difficult program and a lot of work goes in to raising that puppy for those 18 ot 20 months and eventually the puppy becomes a success and moves on to future training. We know it is coming, now we take the leash and he will never see the puppy again. It is very bittersweet. But it is an extraordinary gift of love.
My last dog was with me for 22 months and it really got difficult the day he was leaving. We were walking up the hill here and I gave him a command I told him watch me, and he looked at me and I fell into tears. I knew it was the final time I would get to see him. He was going to somebody that needs him more than I do. I have a great amount of respect for that dog and he made me proud of him,
Puppies Behind Bars brings the program in but it is up to them to do the work. And what a huge sense of accomplishment it is when that fdog goes into the world and does his job.
Puppies Behind Bars trains inmates to raise Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever puppies to become service dogs for the disabled.
The dogs can also be trained as explosive detection canines for law enforcement.
Recently, Petside visited Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York to see first hand how these amazing puppies are changing lives inside and outside of the prison walls.
Find out more about the puppies in this program and learn how Puppies Behind Bars are helping wounded U.S. soldiers.