Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on March 28, 2010

Question

Do you know which prisons in the Virginia Department of Corrections offer programs that give male inmates the opportunity to assist with training dogs? Every prison program I have ever seen on Animal Planet has only been available to female inmates in other states. There have been rumors circulating that there is a Virginia prison program that offers specialized training for difficult dogs before adoption. From a win-win perspective, I can definitely see the benefits for inmates dealing with depression as well as the much-needed one-on-one intense training and attention that difficult dogs would receive. Prior to my incarceration, I owned three beagles and five cats. If such a program actually exists in the Virginia prison system and I were eligible, I definitely could see the mutual benefits for the dogs as well as myself. I decided to ask you because you are considered a national authority on animals and your prescribed remedies for ailing pets never cease to amaze me. Thank you for your assistance.

S.S.M., Virginia Beach, Va Mar 28, 2010

Answer

I agree that it would be a win-win situation for selected male inmates to have the opportunity to join a dog-socialization or basic-training program, even advanced training for assistance dogs. I say "selected male inmates" only because some may be incarcerated for spousal abuse or other violent crimes that are often associated with cruelty to dogs and other animals during childhood and adolescence. The www.Paws4Prisons.org Web site details an assistance dog-training program at the women-only USP Hazelton facility in Bruceton Mills, W.Va. And there is another program at Stafford Creek Correction Center in Walla Walla, Wash. I would encourage Virginia and other state and federal prison authorities to accept dog training as part of inmate rehabilitation for selected male as well as female inmates, and to implement similar programs in their correctional centers.

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