Once trained, a guide dog can be a gift of freedom for someone who is blind or visually impaired. As a puppy, that same dog can offer a different kind of freedom to the person who takes on the important job of providing care and guidance until the dog is old enough to begin training—especially when that individual is an inmate at a correctional facility.
What happens when you give a big, tough, and intimidating man — a prison inmate, no less — a tiny, adorable puppy? Amazing things can happen.
Since 1939, Leader Dogs for the Blind has given prison inmates the opportunity to give back to the community by raising service dogs. Its prison puppy-raising program pairs “Future Leader Dogs” with model prisoners who have demonstrated they can be trusted to provide 24/7 care to a puppy for up to a year.
In conjunction with Purina Pro Plan and Lions Club International, Mutual of America brought cameras into correctional facilities of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to tape the amazing video below.
The initiative also improves relationships between corrections officers and inmates, because they must rely on each other. While inmates raise the puppy in the prison during the week, corrections officers take the puppy home on weekends to help socialize it and expose it to new environments.
Chippewa Correctional Facility will be the first prison in Michigan offering the Leader Dog for the Blind Program.
In the past there were also similar prison programs, and that’s because of the exceptionally high success rates for both canine and human well-being.
In this wonderful training program, the pups bond with and are trained by their respective inmates. The two can form a connection that leaves a lasting impact on the inmates. There is a marked reduction in the rate of recidivism among prison puppy raisers and they express pride and gratitude for the chance to give something back.
What an incredible gift, to both the inmates and society as a whole.
Credits: Leader Dogs for the Blind
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