Thursday, December 20, 2012

Puppies Behind Bars - a gift to two

The holiday season is upon us and many people will exchange presents and celebrate festivities.  At the Puppies Behind Bars organization, puppies are giving the gift of joy, service and compassion all through the year.

Carl Rotans joined me on PAWsitive Radio. Carl is the senior instructor for Puppies Behind Bars (PBB), a non-profit organization that trains prison inmates to raise, train and care for puppies that will become service dogs for the disabled and explosive detection canines for law enforcement.

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Mr. Rotans took his love and passion for his own Labrador Retrievers, and began his career in dog obedience training. This lead to his employment at a nationally renowned guide dog school located in the New York metropolitan area. It was here that he worked and received formal training and eventually took an instructor position with PBB.

Now as the Senior Instructor his duties include the training and instruction of new staff as well as opening and preliminary instruction for the program in new correctional facilities.
Founded in 1997 by Gloria Gilbert Stoga, PBB has become a world leader in prison dog raising programs and operates in correctional facilities in three states. The quality of the dogs produced is second to none, but equally important is the effect the program has on the inmates who care for the dogs. The puppies live in prison with their ‘puppy raisers’ from age eight weeks until eighteen months. As the puppies mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it.

Carl stated that the puppies enter the jail when they are eight months old, and are trained by inmates who have been carefully assessed and trained themselves to take the puppies through a two year program, training them to be service dogs. These puppies are nurtured, trained, and loved by inmates who undergo specialized training.  The program is a beautiful example of the many ways that dogs can impact and change lives. The inmates who are part of this program spend 24 hours a day with the puppies in training, and contribute to society and to a veteran who will need a service dog to improve their quality of life.

You can listen to some beautiful stories of the different puppies behind bars and how this program is changing lives on the inside and outside of the bars.

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