service dog

What Puppies Learn In Prison

NEADS routinely earns high marks for its work training, matching, and placing service dogs. The organization—formerly known as National Education for Assistance Dog Services and Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans—trains over 90 percent of its dogs through the Prison PUP Program in federal correctional facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Inmates with exceptional records are chosen as handlers, and they maintain regular contact with NEADS for the 12 to 18 months required to fully train an animal. According to the organization, prisoners have a high level of success with service-dog training because they are able to consistently dedicate large amounts of time to the process.

The canines enter the program as puppies after having been identified and evaluated by breeders and NEADS on criteria that include temperament, health, and behavioral and genetic history. The organization has trained over 1,800 service dogs since its founding in 1976. Its programs are variously designed to prepare the dogs to help people with physical disabilities, children with autism, veterans with PTSD, and people who cannot hear. NEADS also trains dogs to assist teachers, therapists, ministers, and courthouse and hospital employees in interacting with patients, clients, and others.

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