For a dog to be sent to jail, he must’ve done something really bad! Well, these pooches aren’t in jail for doing bad things, they are behind bars to do good.
This program isn’t new, but I find it unique and interesting...Puppies Behind Bars is an intensive puppy raising program, designed to ready puppies for future service and assistance jobs. The puppies go to jail to live side-by-side with an inmate for 16 months. During that time, the inmate cares for the dog completely and teaches the pup basic commands, obedience and necessary skills. They also attend training classes with PBB staff.
Many years ago, a Florida veterinarian thought that an inmate would be an ideal “puppy raiser” because they have unlimited time to spend with the puppy. Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) took that idea and created a program that not only benefits a dog, but also teaches inmates valuable lessons about caring for other beings.
A thought that crossed my mind was that there are many experiences that a dog cannot get while in jail, right? How about being on a crowded street or riding in a car? Well, the puppies leave jail a couple times a month (without their inmate roomie) to stay with a puppy sitter in order to get those “everyday” experiences that they cannot otherwise get in the jail.
After 16 months in jail, the puppies are tested to determine their suitability as either a guide dog for the blind, an explosive detection dog, or a service dog for wounded military men or women (PBB's own Dog Tags Program). If a dog is deemed suitable for one of those service jobs, he goes to special school and formal training specific to the client’s needs. If they are not determined suitable for one of those specific jobs, PBB donates the dog to families with blind children. Either way, the PBB dogs get to spend their lives as companions for people who need them.
Since July 1997, the Puppies Behind Bars program has successfully had 380 graduate dogs (meaning they went on to a fulfilling life as a therapy, guide, explosive detection or service dog). Currently the program has 69 dogs in jail, and 11 in the formal training phase. So far, only 128 dogs have been “released” for medical or general reasons.
Raising puppies for service jobs is a lengthy, time-consuming and expensive process, but the Puppies Behind Bars program seems to be an amazing program to get dogs from the early puppyhood stages to working adult, utilizing inmates in the early phases. Not only do the dogs benefit from the training and the “jobs” they get, but the jailed inmates benefit as well as the companions that receive the fully-trained dog in the end.
Visit the PBB site for more information. Also, Time.com and Oprah have done great stories on the Puppies Behind Bars program.
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