Prison-Based Dog Training Programs

inmates-help-train-dogs-adoption rs

Rehabilitation for Canine and Human:

The majority of states have programs that pair shelter and injured dogs with inmates, the progams are benefitial all the way around but as of late some goveners have began cancelling the programs for ‘budgetary’ reasons – which dosent hold up as the programs are estimated to cost around $100/dog/inmate and that includes food and transporation. Here is some basic information i found at -but i encourage you to check your state/county website and encourage the proper office to continue the program or encourage them to renact or impliment it!

From Coyote:

It’s happening all over the USA: prison inmates receive training to, in turn, train dogs from animal shelters. The prisoners learn a joy, a compassion and a responsibility that can come only from raising and training a dog, as well as skills that can help them find a job. The dog becomes adoptable. Some lucky family gets to adopt a well-trained dog that, just a few weeks before, would have been put to death merely for being unwanted. OR, the dog is trained especially for security jobs (drug sniffing, bomb sniffing at airports, etc.). The shelter reduces the numbers of dogs killed every year in the USA (which totals in the MILLIONS).

Most attribute the original idea to a model for prison pet partnership programs envisioned in 1981 by Sister Pauline Quinn, who introduced the concept of inmates training unwanted dogs for those persons with disabilities. The program was initiated in the Washington prison for women.

Here is a quote from an inmate and a nurse at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City, Kentucky, which either runs, or used to run, this type of program (I can’t find any recent reference to it online):

“She likes to play now. She didn’t want to play. She really didn’t want to be petted when she first got here, like she’d been abused. Now everyone that passes her she thinks is supposed to pet her,” says inmate Robert Smith, Dixie’s handler. “She’s helped me a lot because she helped me find the man that I was before I came to prison and I like the person that I found.”


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A nurse at the prison says the atmosphere at the prison has changed since the program started. “They’re more friendly toward each other. We haven’t had as many fights. You can see the changes in the inmates themselves, being responsible for somebody else has given them a purpose,” says Ina Benge.

The page you are reading now was started in early 2006 to list various programs happening in the USA, with the hope that other prisons and animals shelters throughout the world will be able to access the info they need to start their own programs. This page was launched in early 2006, and I think it was the first attempt online to track prison-based dog training programs; however, I don’t have time to maintain this page. Anyone want to take it over? If so, please contact me.

Please note that I have NO further information than what is on this page!!! If you are looking for further information than what is here on this page, I have none. Sorry.

If you are interested in developing such a prison-based dog-training program (or other prison-based animal-case program), I suggest that you purchase Animals in institutions. This action guide provides a compilation of sample infection control policies, resource information, journal and popular articles, and conference abstracts for hospitals, nursing homes, corrections facilities, and hospices.

Also, Patricia Kelley wrote a Prison Dogs Book, with an associated web site and blog, regarding prison-based dog training programs.

If you are looking for further information on prison-based training programs, do NOT contact me; I have no further information than what is posted on this web page. Instead, contact the Delta Society, Patricia Kelley, or any of the programs listed below.

ARIZONA Second Chance Prison Canine Program
A group of advocates for disabled people, prison inmates, and animal welfare in Arizona coordinate this program.


Canine Support Teams
California institution for Women


Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program
Started in October of 2002 with five dogs in one facility. “We now have 130 handlers in nine facilities through out the state of Colorado.” The Program is an accredited Community College Program and offers vocational certification in Canine Behavior Modification. “Our text, ‘Prison Trained Dogs: An Inside Job with Communitywide Rewards’ will be printed and ready for purchase by March of 2007.” This program is a Colorado Department of Agriculture licensed Pet Rescue.


Kansas Greyhound prison dog program
Information coming soon


Green River Correctional Complex
Central City, Kentucky
The first Kentucky prison to take “unadoptable” dogs from the local humane society, put them with trained inmates, and have the dogs trained daily by the inmates. In August 2005, the first eight dogs in the program were adopted.


Gadsden Correctional Institution
Training program for security dogs.

Florida Prison Dog Program
Information coming soon


Downeast Correctional
Bucks Harbor, Maine
This is a program where inmates in prisons are training dogs to assist the disabled. The dogs are then placed with someone who needs a specially trained dog to assist them.

Prison PUP Program
Maine Correctional
Windham, Maine
Information coming soon


North Central Correctional
Gardner, Massachusetts
Information coming soon

Department of Corrections, Women¹s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC)
Florissant, MO
Information coming soon


Puppies Behind Bars
New York
Information coming soon


Ohio Prison Dog Program
Information coming soon


Project Pooch
Information coming soon


Dominguez Texas State Jail
Information coming soon

James River Correctional Center
The center set up this program with Save Our Shelters where inmates learn to (and then do) train and groom stray dogs and cats. It has probably received more publicity than any other. After training, the animals become available for adoption. And ALL of the dogs in the first year were adopted (not sure about the cats). This program helps to lower the rate of euthanasia in Virginia’s public pounds and provides well-trained dogs and socialized cats for adoption. It helps promote a correctional center environment of less tension and improves communication between the correctional center staff and inmates; and it enhances the humanity and compassion of everyone involved: inmates, center staff, shelter staff, and probably anyone else even remotely involved with this program.

Pocahontas Correctional Unit
Chesterfield, VA
Women’s facility. Inmates being trained in dog grooming. A cat shelter is also provided. More information coming soon

Washington State Corrections
Gig Harbor, Washington
Personal testimonials by fans of these programs, with a description of what it entails. As mentioned above, most attribute the original idea of these inmate/dog partner programs to a model envisioned in 1981 by Sister Pauline Quinn, who introduced the concept of inmates training unwanted dogs for those persons with disabilities. The program was initiated in the Washington prison for women. The Washington¹s Prison Pet Partnership Program has received both national and international recognition for its innovative approach to vocational rehabilitation of prison inmates.


Sanger B Powers Correctional
Oneida, Wisconsin
More information coming soon


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Based in Toronto Canada, Animal Rights Advocate and Relentless Volunteer!

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