With more than 200 people with disabilities waiting for a PAWS Assistance Dog, we have a huge need to raise and train more puppies. This means we need even more Foster Puppy Raisers. Now we can come closer to meeting that need with PAWS Prison Partners, an exciting partnership PAWS has with area prisons.
“I’m stoked about this amazing service I can provide my community, knowing my hard work goes to help better someone’s life.”
PAWS Prison Partner participant
We need more Foster Puppy Raisers and there are qualified inmates waiting to help
Inmates have time to troubleshoot and remediate behaviors that may prevent a puppy from becoming an Assistance Dog
Puppies trained by inmates typically have better on leash behavior
Better trained puppies shave months off formal Assistance Dog training, saving PAWS both time and money
Helping to train PAWS Dogs for people with disabilities gives inmates a purpose
Raising and training a PAWS Puppy teaches relational and employment skills such as strong communication, reporting, commitment, self-discipline, teamwork, leadership and empathy
We’ve seen gratitude develop, self-esteem improve, hope grow and inmates realize the good inside of them all because a PAWS Dog loves their Partner
Some inmates have even been able to stop taking medications prescribed by a Psychologist
Since people relate to dogs, it’s improving relationships between officers and inmates because they now have a common focus and interest
Officers say that this program has improved the institutional environment
Inmates are more compliant since this program is a privilege they can work towards
Inmates have fewer infractions and improved cooperation since this is all required of those selected to become PAWS Prison Partners
This program helps PAWS Prison Partners get out of the “criminal” mindset and shift their focus to helping others by helping to train PAWS Puppies
We believe that fostering a puppy renews an inmate's sense of hope that he can be successful in other personal relationships after his release
By teaching relational and vocational skills, people coming out of prison can break the cycle of poverty and unemployment, helping to reduce recidivism
Research shows that 70-86% of inmates who have partnered with organizations like PAWS remain out of prison, compared to only 50% of those not involved in a dog-related program.
PAWS Dogs in the program follow an established training curriculum provided by PAWS Staff. Dogs are temperament tested before placement in order to provide an evaluation baseline for gauging success.
PAWS conducts training classes with qualified inmates and dogs twice a week. This allows us to ensure inmates' work and handling skills are consistent with PAWS’ standards.
PAWS Dogs are not permitted within the general prison population and are never left alone. Participating inmates and dogs are housed separately from the general population. Each dog stays with his Partner in his cell. Adjacent to the building is a grassy, outdoor yard allowing for ease of breaking and training the dogs. We also use a large multipurpose room for group training exercises.
PAWS Puppies 12 months or older can join this program as a way to meet our need for more Foster Puppy Raisers.
No, we need both! Puppies need more exposure and socialization than they can get in a prison environment. By selecting dogs that have already been trained in homes, they get the socialization and exposure to new environments they need as a future Assistance Dog. Then a PAWS Prison Partner can help with advanced obedience and retrieval work for an average of four months before returning to PAWS for formal Assistance Dog training.
Since PAWS Prison Partners have more time than in-home Raisers, they complete 5x more training repetitions with a PAWS Puppy. The result? PAWS Dogs returning from prison have better on-leash behavior and have completed 16 weeks of training. This means our trainers now spend very little time in phase 1 and can jump to phase 2 training.
Yes! The PAWS Dogs in this program are extremely well cared for by inmates. We have never had a dog harmed. And the work of inmates is closely supervised by prison staff and PAWS Trainers.
Because the dogs selected for the program are older, a great deal of socialization and exposure has already been done. We have community volunteers already in place who are willing to take our dogs on weekends to provide additional socialization opportunities as needed.
PAWS is responsible for all costs related to the dogs’ care. All needed supplies – food, crates, leashes, collars, etc. – will be provided from PAWS’ inventory. We believe this is an effective use of our resources since it results in more successful Assistance Dog Team placements. Participating inmates receive a small wage for their commitment to training, paid for through prison funds.
PAWS provides any routine vet care. We have partnerships with vet clinics near each prison in the event that any emergency care is needed. Female dogs who may come into season during their stay will return to PAWS for that 21-day period and then return to their Partner.
Inmates must apply to be a part of this program and have at least four years remaining on their sentence. We carefully screen each applicant and ensure they do not have a documented history of violence or criminal sexual conduct. Any inmate infraction in the last 12 months makes them ineligible and any infraction occurring while acting as a PAWS Prison Partner permanently expels them from the program.