Puppies Behind Bars~~No! It's Not What You Think~A Heartwarming Story

@pyewacket (44036)
United States
June 18, 2009 10:13pm CST
I saw this story the other night on the news about "Puppies Behind Bars" which is actually an organization that takes 8 week old puppies and is part of a program to train them until they are old enough to be either as use as dogs for sniffing out weapons, drugs, bombs, people in disaster type situations, OR trained for the elderly and/or disabled, especially vets coming back home from war and need a guide dog to give them a sense of a quality of life again with a companion animal. Here's the kicker. The dogs aren't trained by ordinary means, but the puppies are given to hardened criminals who have committed serious crimes including murder and are in jail. Here is the basic Puppies Behind Bars website which has a video about the puppies and the many prisoners who train them http://www.puppiesbehindbars.com/ There's also an article and video on the Oprah.com (yes I know some of you can't stand her but please watch) http://www.oprah.com/media/20090416-tows-puppies-behind-bars Then there's also another article about it here http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=4284792 Here's an excerpt from the article [i](New York-WABC, June 19, 2006) (WABC) -- A new and very unconventional pilot program pairs puppies with hardened criminals behind bars. It sounds like an odd combination, but it is for a good cause: to train puppies for the disabled. Sarah Wallace was granted unprecented access at Otisville correctional facility in Orange County and she joins us. This prison program is a win-win for everyone involved. It takes a tremendous commitment of time to raise a dog to be a service companion for someone with a disability. How perfect then to seek out someone who has nothing but time and is also looking to give something back to society. [/i] {NOT referral links but to videos and articles about this Puppies Behind Bars program) I was hoping to find the EXACT video I saw the other night but didn't succeed....it was a charmer and very bittersweet, since here you have these hardened criminals doing serious time behind jail. They were aggressive, perhaps abusive prior to their arrest, they had hard hearts, hated society and people, but with this program they become softies...in fact, in the video I saw, one prisoner who was jailed for first degree murder, trained his puppy. When the day came for him to turn the dog over so it could be placed with a disabled person, he broke down and cried like a baby. And crap you can bet I was crying too. This program seems to be taking off nationwide, as it had only been introduced to one prison. But it's become such a success more and more prisons are involved with this program. Best yet, the prisoners feel like they are accomplishing something worthy and not just "doing time" locked up in prison. So what do you think of this Puppies Behind Prison? Do you think more prisons, not just here in America, but worldwide should have such a program? Do you think its a worthy concept to rehabilitate prisoners?
7 people like this
23 responses
@twoey68 (13651)
• United States
19 Jun 09
I think it's a worthwhile program as long as the convicts are being supervised so there's no abuse of the dogs. I can also imagine that it is hard to give up the dog b/c they've become attached to it...seems kind of harsh in that aspect. [b]~~AT PEACE WITHIN~~ **STAND STRONG IN YOUR BELIEFS**[/b]
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
25 Jun 09
Yes it must be a sad moment when the prisoner has to give up the dog--how can one not get attached to a dog (or cat) then have to give it up?
@gabs8513 (48715)
• United Kingdom
19 Jun 09
That is such a good Idea, I have to say though the Problem is when they have to hand them over, I know they are Criminals but there are Criminals that do regret and obviously something like this gives them the feeling they are doing something and at least make it up a little bit and helping People that need this Dog in the Future
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
25 Jun 09
It must be hard for the criminals though when the training session time is over and they have to hand the dog to someone else...they must get really attached to the dog by then
@Aurone (4758)
• United States
19 Jun 09
That sounds like a great program. It is a win-win. Gives criminals something to do that benefits the society that they have a debt too. What a great story. Thanks for sharing, its good to hear a good pet story for a change.
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
19 Jun 09
I was watching some of the other videos on the Oprah website, especially about "Pax" who was trained by a female inmate and she was reunited with the dog...Pax is with a disabled vet now--talk about needing tissues
@paula27661 (15899)
• Australia
19 Jun 09
I think it is absolutely fantastic! To see the hard faces of these criminals soften and their eyes showing true emotion is a miracle in itself and that is the power of the unconditional love an animal can give. I saw a documentary here in Australia about it not long ago and I reached for the tissues too. I hope this program is introduced in more prisons and that it will be implemented in Australian prisons too. Yes I believe that, although there is no miracle ‘cure’ for some prisoners, this program would go a long way to making valuable changes for some of these people who live their lives in and out of jail,all they need is to experience a little love and the 'little people with fur' sure have plenty of that!
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
21 Jun 09
It was almost "funny" if you get my meaning to see these "hardened" criminals break down in tears all due to a furbaby and it must be bittersweet and sad when they have to give the dogs up after training--gosh, I could never do that after having the dog for so long and in my care
1 person likes this
@paula27661 (15899)
• Australia
21 Jun 09
I know! I couldn't give it up either! That's why I could not cope with fostering dogs and having to part with them...Nope, couldn't do it!
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
19 Jun 09
I've seen a few shows like that, even one where women in prison were raising dogs to become service dogs
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
19 Jun 09
Did you see the one video on the Oprah website where the female inmate was reunited with Pax, the dog she trained but was given to a disabled vet? A charmer--need tissues
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
19 Jun 09
haven't seen that one, but I have watched a few of these shows, when there just isn't anything else on I want to watch
1 person likes this
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
20 Jun 09
Hey pye! I had seen this on tv and was so surprised at first and didn't quite know what to make of it until I watched it and heard more! I kind of felt sorry for the prisoners in a way knowing that they would work so hard and fall in love with these beautiful and sweet animals and have to give them up one day and know that this would probably be the hardest day of their lives! But, then I had to take a step back and remember that after all these were hardened criminals that murdered and did other horrific crimes! But, I guess being such an animal lover I know how difficult it would be giving up such a loving animal after training them and spending so much time with them that it would have to be difficult no matter who you are or what you did! I think that these prisoners finally did do a good thing for maybe the very first time in their lives! They helped get these very special animals ready to do very special jobs that are so needed! I hope that if this program does go well that maybe it will be continued for the sake of the prisoners and the animals that are so very necessary do do these jobs!
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
25 Jun 09
I can't help wonder about pet rescuers too, who foster pets for a length of time as well then adopt out the pet...yes, it's going to a new forever home, but I could never take care of a pet then have to give it up like that all the time...just as these prisoners have to do
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
19 Jun 09
Animals can do wonders with people. It sounds like a great program!
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
25 Jun 09
Yes animals do wonders for anyone...pets have also even been known to help people with depression issues--and I'm sure prisoners stuck behind bars are often depressed
@Debs_place (10525)
• United States
19 Jun 09
Pye, Guiding Eyes for the Blind - breeding center in Patterson, NY and training center in Yorktown, NY did this some time ago at a correctional facility in Fishkill, NY ..I found this link. It dates back to 1999. My old guy was a stud for them at the time which is how I knew about the program. I would say that it is a great idea but I would also be worried about the puppy...people usually go to prison for a good reason.
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
21 Jun 09
Well the program from what I gather is heavily supervised--I think we would have heard of negative cases of something going wrong and maybe a prisoner abusing the animal Kind of reminds me of that story Birdman of Alcatraz...Robert Stroud...a real hardened criminal, a lifer, a murderer and a chip on his shoulder...then he got interested in taking care of birds...his interest expanded so much he became an expert in avian medicine--so one never knows, right?
@moondancer (7434)
• United States
19 Jun 09
I saw this program to. I think it's a good thing for the prisoners and the dogs. The prisoners have something to do to keep them out of trouble, it shows a softer side of them. It's a good thing that they are doing. I believe all prisons should do this. No matter where they are as there are disabled people everywhere. There are blind people everywhere.
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
25 Jun 09
I'm hoping more prisons adopt this program too and it's beneficial on both sides...the dog being trained for some disabled person and for the prisoner who trains these dogs
• United States
19 Jun 09
I have also thought this was a wonderful program. It has so many benefits both for the dogs and humans.
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
21 Jun 09
I hope they expand this programs to more prisons--though I can't picture as one responder mention someone like Charles Manson training a dog
@cruelsai (35)
• Philippines
19 Jun 09
This is one of the programs government should be considering. Not only that animal euthanasia would be lessen but also violence. This is a very agreeable program. And as you said, a win-win to both parties involved. I can recommend this idea to our local animal welfare association. Nice. :)
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
21 Jun 09
I hope more prisons adapt this program...it's a great one for both the dogs involved and the inmates
@applefreak (3131)
• Singapore
19 Jun 09
awww that must be a really touching moment. i think i've watched an animal planet programme on this too. only thing is the prison mentioned was a all-female facility. most of the women were in there for serious offences too. the one woman featured in the programme was a woman who killed her husband. her husband abused her physically and mentally for many years before she snapped and killed him. she wasn't in very good form when she first entered the programme. she was distrustful and kept a distance from everyone. but all these changed when she was introduced to her first puppy. the dog taught her how to be close to another living being and learn to trust. it was a really touching story and i hope this programme will be introduced to all the prisons.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
19 Jun 09
That's what I think is so great about a program like this. Even the most hardened criminals when given that puppy soften up and learn to trust again and gives them a sense of accomplishment
• Philippines
19 Jun 09
I have seen a lot of documentaries like this in animal planet and national geographic channel, the one I have watched though are dogs from shelter that are being trained to be able to qualify for adoption.. and one episode I have seen, they train dogs to be a service dog to blind people. It is really heartwarming, to see these hard core criminals just melt when they see their dogs, or when their dogs did a good job. It is a good organization, and I hope that it prospers and be followed by others countries as well.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
19 Jun 09
This was the first time I was aware of such a program and would be nice to see it expanded to a lot more prisons as I think it gives a lot of self-worth and esteem to the prisoners feeling they are doing something worthy
@alexz003 (54)
• United States
19 Jun 09
It's great that they have finally found something for the dogs to do instead of being forced to be in cages all their life. POOR THINGS! i love dogs. I have a dog and my neigbor has 5. I visit them all the time and i love mine so i definately think it is good for the dogs!
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
19 Jun 09
I think it's great for both the dogs and the prisoners to have a sense of worth
@GardenGerty (102535)
• United States
19 Jun 09
I have heard of this or a similar program before. I believe it is great for the prisoners and for the animals. I have also heard of other animals being cared for by prisoners. I am not sure how it would work in other countries. It would depend on how that country regards pets in the first place. Caring for animals increases empathy and usually decreases violence.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
19 Jun 09
In the one video I was watching, the inmate said he hadn't had a puppy to care for in fifteen years, and began crying, and confessed he hadn't cried in twenty years. Yes, a program like this does give empathy to even the hardest heart
@blue65packer (11835)
• United States
19 Jun 09
I have seen this on Animal Planet! I think it is a wonderful idea and I wish more prisons could do this! These prisoners learn responsiblity,a work ethic,job skills,patience,and in some cases a worthy concept to rehabilitate prisoners! It is also go for prisoners who are doing life with out parole! Besides what I said before it also helps prisoners fromm getting bored and gives them purpose! It also helps people who need dogs for "seeing",police work,military work,to be better pets or to help people with all types of disablites! I hope these can be done in more prisons! I think it is great for people and dogs alike!
1 person likes this
19 Jun 09
Hi pye, What a wonderful story here, the puppies are sure making those harden criminals a big softies, and its working. I think they sould do that all over the globe as its give something back to those who cimit crime and change them hopefully becasue in most case these people don't know what is like to love and be loved, it did makde me cry too, its amazing what a dog can do for people as well as been trained for good of all, thank you pye for giving us this insight. Bright Blessings Tamara
1 person likes this
@4mymak (1796)
• Malaysia
24 Jun 09
whoaa.. 'dejavu moment'.. sort of... the story you wrote about - i had watched on a 'Hallmark Movie'.. but the dogs were 'mature dogs' and the criminals were female, and not so hardcore.. and the dogs they trained were for elderlys.. the article was written in 2006, so i think maybe the movie was based on your story.. i watched that movie quite some time back.. last year i think. anyways.. i think it is a good thing. the 'hardcore' criminals were not born evil, probably somewhere in some point of their lives, something must've gone wrong, so there has to be a 'clean' soul somewhere underneath all that 'badness', and i guess 'raising and training' the puppies helps 'polishes' their souls once again. if it really can turn around a bad apple to become a good one - i am all for it.. they should have similar programs for the juvenile detentions as well - we should always start with younger ones..
@Lakota12 (42684)
• United States
22 Jun 09
I have seen this before and I think it is good for any one to take on the dog training I think it also teaches the person training the dog some order in their life!
@celticeagle (119865)
• Boise, Idaho
20 Jun 09
I think I saw this same program a few months back. It was great. I think for some it will work wonderfully. Alot of inmates just need something to care about and be apart of. I think it would be great for more prisons to have alot of such programs. Most don't. I think it is a worthy concept to help in the rehabilitation of some prisoners. There are afew that are just too far gone. Take Charles Manson for instance. Can you see him with a pup? Ugh!