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After writing about the challenges seeing eye dog organizations are facing, I was happy to see that Leader Dogs for the Blind recently received an award for establishing a program that helps inmates while increasing success rates for their puppies.
The Michigan based group was awarded one of Mutual of America's Community Partnership Awards for their Prison Puppy Raiser program. The initiative pairs inmates in state prisons with a puppy to work on everything from socialization to teaching basic behaviors.
The program's benefits have been two fold. Not only are inmates more successful in staying out of trouble once released, the dogs in this program have a higher success rate compared to pups raised in private homes.
The Prison Puppy Raiser program was launched in 2002 by Leader Dogs for the Blind and the North Central Correctional Facility in Calhoun County, Iowa. Seeing the program's success, other prisons started joining and local Lions Clubs and schools began sponsoring puppies. Volunteers also visit the prisons to distribute supplies and provide guidance to the new puppy raisers.
The program now places nearly 100 puppies each year at six minimum-security prisons across four states. There was stiff competition from many nonprofits for the award, but Mutual of America chose the Prison Puppy Raiser program because of the number of partnerships that came together to make this endeavor a success.