In mid-September, ADI held its annual Trainers’ Conference in Hagerstown, Maryland, USA.
Eighty individuals from twenty five states and Canada, met to exchange ideas and gather information regarding the raising and training of puppies in correctional facilities.
Speakers from Guide Dog, Service Dog and Hearing Dog Programs, as well as Correctional Facility Staff, made power point presentations, facilitated panel discussions and shared their first-hand experience with prison puppy programs.
Some of the topics that were discussed included:
- The types of Prison Puppy Programs
- Steps to open a prison Puppy Program
- How inmates are chosen to participate
- Prison Puppy protocols that assure success
- How to Increase the number of canine placements
- Puppy training curriculums used
- The role of a Prison Puppy Liaison
- Getting positive PR for your program
- Pups on Furlough Program and
- ADI Prison Puppy Standards
The highlights of the conference were the tours of the two men’s medium security prisons; Maryland Correctional Training Facility and MCI-Hagerstown.
ADI members got to see where the puppies were housed, observe puppy demos and ask a DOC panel consisting of prison officials and inmate handlers, questions. They also got to witness a graduation ceremony for three puppies that had graduated from the prison program and were about to return to America’s VetDogs for their final training and matching with a veteran.
Prison Puppy Programs are “Win Win” for everyone:
- The ADI Program wins as prison puppies train up more quickly and that translates into placing more dogs with disabled people
- The inmate wins as he learns to nurture and can give back to society in a positive and safe way
- The correctional staff wins as they find that puppies bring a “calm” to prison that changes the whole atmosphere
- And the puppy wins as he grows up to be a well-trained Assistance Dog.