Inmates train service dogs for the community - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Inmates train service dogs for the community


In prison, inmates are expected to work and be rehabilitated.

However inmates at Wisconsin's Jackson Correctional Institution feel they don't get many chances to do so.

But a new program is changing that.

In the prison system for the last 15 years, Michael says canine prison program brought out a new side of him.

Michael, An inmate at Jackson Correctional Institution, said,"It shocked me and my family that I could actually become a human being instead of a criminal."

He never trained a dog before actually feared he'd hurt the dog when they arrived as puppies, the feeling changed when he held her.

Michael said,"When she looked me in the face it was just like, I fell in love with her right away, you know."

That's the impact Warden Lizzie Tegels hoped would happen as she partnered with can do canines to help train service dogs for those in the community with disabilities.

Warden Tegels said, "Once we connected with them, this program hit the ground running. And it's been a controlled chaos ever since and we've enjoyed every bit of it."

Wisconsin area coordinator Dyan Larson says the organization has a large waiting list for those needing a service dog making it a perfect fit to partner with correctional facilities.

Larson said, "People who are waiting for the dogs mean they're going to get a dog sooner. The difference that it makes in so many people's lives along the way is amazing."

Like Chris, who handled Peggy, he says watching the dog taught him patience that he never had before.

It's sad to know he's losing his best friend but finds comfort in giving back to the community.

Christopher said, "I know she's going to a great place and going to help somebody in need. That's why I really got into this, to begin with."

Someone like Terri Krake, who's dog Brody, helps her when she suffers seizures from an injury she had during her days as a police officer.

Krake said, "Without a doubt, this dog saves my life periodically throughout the week. The work that they do with these puppies is awe-inspiring."

And for Michael, it's given him a new drive in life when he gets out.

Michael said, "I'm coming from this program with all these tools, why not put them to good use instead of holding them in my back pocket."

The trainers from the "can do canine" teach the inmates how to train the dogs and they immediately apply it to the dogs they're handling.

The next step the correctional institution needs is more foster families to take dogs on the weekends.

They say it helps the dogs get out in the community and not become institutionalized.

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