August 18, 2015 | Posted in Andy The Everydog
The “inside” is the Colorado Correctional Industries Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program in Buena Vista, Colorado. It’s a place where prison inmates (male and female) are matched with dogs whose futures are in jeopardy. Oddly, the fates of the dogs inside are the same as the prisoners who care for them: shape up or ship out.
“The dogs in question are ‘on their last legs’ “, according to Debi Stevens, founder of the companion program. Dogs admitted into the program have been neglected, abandoned or abused and, consequently, display fearful, social behavioral issues — much like the incarcerated offenders who learn to care for them.
For such dogs, the alternative to being trained in such a program is often euthanization.
Inmates say that working with their assigned dogs teaches them empathy, responsibility and the importance of teamwork.
Dogs and their inmate trainers live in a separate part of the prison. Animals with the toughest problems come from surrounding area shelters. Prisoners must already have or study for and obtain their G.E.D. to be considered for the companion program. When they are released from prison, many use their acquired skills to work in veterinary hospitals, kennels and as dog trainers.
Most of the dogs are eventually adopted by forever families.
For more information, take a look at Modern Dog magazine, Winter 2013/14 issue.