A Labrador Retriever named Dante is the first service dog to graduate at Donovan State Prison! Inmates train dogs to help veterans and autism patients.
A graduation ceremony was held at the prison for the Labrador. He is first dog to complete the program.
Dante has been assigned to assist a wounded Army veteran with her mobility issues and help her manage symptoms of PTSD.
The program is called POOCH – Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Hope (POOCH). The program benefits not only the people receiving the dogs –but the dogs and inmates as well.
Training the dogs has positive effects on inmates
“They say a dog is a man’s best friend, and they’re not wrong about that,” said inmate David Mix.
Mix is in charge of training his dog, Saturn, a Labrador Retriever turned service dog through the prison dog training program.
The program is modeled after an inmate animal training program in Washington State. Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs helped provide education and training guidance to the prison inmates.
Mix, who has been behind bars for 20 years, sees the benefits.
“You help somebody out in the public that really needs a service dog,” Mix said. “You help the inmates, their morale their work habits, everything changes…With a dog comes responsibility. So you think about things a little bit different.”
Animal prison training programs like this are therapeutic, reducing violence in correctional facilities, according to some research. In addition, inmates who train dogs are performing a valuable service to the community.
“You have a sense of pride within yourself because you noticed that change. It’s a change for the better,” said Mix.
Mix is delighted with the progress his service dog, Saturn, is making. Being a part of the program has changed how he looks at life, he says.
“He has uplifted my spirit, given me a sense of pride that you normally won’t get just from doing time,” Mix said. “So it’s a positive situation for everybody. For myself, the dog and the beneficiary.”
Service dogs assisting veterans
Captain Krpata was wounded during a deployment to Iraq. She eventually lost her leg. She found herself struggling after she retired. Captain Krpatawas suffering from depression and other emotional issues. She says Dante helps manage her symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“Having a service dog saved my life. Because instead of worrying about me or focusing on me or worrying about what’s going on in my head, what I think I did wrong in Iraq or whatever, I stopped doing that,” she said. “When you feel like you’ve lost everything. And you worry about is not taking care of your troops. Taking care of Dante and worrying about his every little need is exactly what I needed.”
Shelter dogs as service dogs
Source: Fox5 San Diego