Last night, my daughter hosted a documentary at Loyola University in Chicago that was inspiring.
“Filmed in a Massachusetts prison, DOGS ON THE INSIDE follows the birth of a relationship between abandoned rescue dogs and prison inmates as they work together toward a second chance at a better life. Giving a voice to a forgotten dog and a forgotten man, the film is a life-affirming testament to the power of second chances.”
There are those who would say a prisoner doesn’t deserve the companionship and love of a dog, but being in prison in the first place is the punishment. Shouldn’t we then try to rehabilitate the person and try to make a decent human being out of them?
In the documentary, stray/abandoned dogs are matched with inmates for 8 weeks. The inmates teach the dogs basic commands, which make them more adoptable and increases the chance a family won’t return the dog.
These dogs have often been abused and have lived horrific lives – just like many of the inmates. Besides the basic dog commands, the inmates teach the dog to trust and love again. And guess what? The inmates learn the same thing. In surveys from a similar program in Florida, the most often used word when asked what they got out of the program was “love.” How wonderful is that? In some cases, this is the first time the inmate has felt it. How terrible is that?
After the documentary, Dyan Larson from Can Do Canines in Minnesota spoke to us about their program. They place dogs with inmates for a year, and the inmates train them to be mobility service dogs. After the year of training, the dogs then receives further training in one of five service categories. Once trained, these dogs are worth $25,000, but because of the prison program, the organization can give the dogs to a person of need.
From their website:
“This unique program and partnership has proven to be beneficial for all involved. The dogs are well-cared for and receive around-the-clock attention and training. The inmates learn new skills and develop traits such as confidence, dedication, and patience. Prison officials say that the prisons have become a more warm-hearted place and report fewer incidents of violence. And at the end of it all, a client with a disability receives a specially-trained dog to help them achieve greater freedom, independence and peace of mind.”
It’s a win-win situation. I applaud all those involved and hope these programs around the country can continue and even expand. And I would like to thank my kind-hearted daughter for spreading the word about these programs.
Get involved! You can make the world a better place!