With the help of inmates, there was a dog-gone nice graduation at the Jackson Correctional Institution.
Inmates trained a number of service dogs during the past year to assist individuals with various disabilities. Last week, inmates demonstrated skills the dogs have learned before they leave JCI to complete their training.
It was the first group of dogs trained under the program, and the graduation celebration included Warden Lizzie Tegels, program and prison staff and inmates.
Can Do Canines is a non-profit organization that trains dogs for individuals who have hearing loss, mobility challenges, seizure disorders, Type I Diabetes or childhood autism.
During training, each dog is assigned to specific inmates, who teach basic commands and prepare the dogs for service.
Community members help care for the dogs on weekends and provide training experiences not available in the prison. The graduating dogs will return to Can Do Canines for further training and socialization before being placed with a person in need.
By partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Can Do Canines decreases the cost to train service dogs, increasing the number of dogs who can be trained and placed with recipients. It costs more than $25,000 to train one service dog.
A number of Department of Corrections facilities across the state host dog programs, which provide inmates with valuable skills and improve the institution climate.
“It is an honor to participate in this program and know that we are helping people in the community,” Tegels said. “The participating inmates feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments and are extremely grateful to others for the chance to give back. This program has also had a very positive effect on the climate at our institution. We’re excited to continue our partnership with Can Do Canines.”
Can Do Canines Executive Director Alan Peters said: “We are so very grateful for the love, attention and training that the inmates provide each of the dogs. Working with JCI has been a win-win situation for all involved.”