The goal of our prison systems is to rehabilitate inmates so they become productive, law-abiding citizens upon their release into society. A prison-service-dog training program like Patriot Service Dogs’ W.O.O.F. has proven to be successful in accomplishing this. As you’ve read in our other blog articles about this topic, the inmates have very poor self-esteem which is the root of their problems. Giving them working skills that will make them employable upon their release helps to boost their self-confidence. Inmates like Lauren learn how to improve their understanding of others and develop better communication and coping skills. She shares how our W.O.O.F. program has given her a new “leash”on life…
How a Prison-Service-Dog-Training Program Has Helped Me
“My name is Lauren and I am 26- years old. I’m currently in the W.O.O.F. prison-service-dog-training program as a trainer at Lowell Correctional Institution’s Work Camp.
I’m a recovering drug addict and, unfortunately, this is my second incarceration in Department of Corrections. When I was committed on this current case, I was sentenced to 10 years, and I thought my life was over. I felt angry, hopeless, and that I’d lost all opportunities to do something meaningful with my life. That was before I got into the W.O.O.F. Program.
The Difference This Prison- Service-Dog-Training-Program Has Made in My Life
Now, I have a purpose; I can smile. I can focus on something other than being in prison, and, now, I’m proud of myself. The dogs I get to wake up to everyday have given me a second chance at life. This time, I’m working for something and they give me the strength to keep pushing forward. I love this program. I’m truly grateful that I get this opportunity, and can’t imagine where I’d be mentally if I weren’t here.
Not only does this program affect me positively, but it also brings life and hope to all the women in this compound. I’ve had women that have been locked up for 15 years pet my dog and break down in tears because, at that moment, they’ve finally felt joy after so many years.
When I take one of the dogs to visit the inmate nursing home in another compound, I am inspired at how one little creature can change the inmates’ demeanor. Instead of radiating hopelessness and sadness, their faces beam with happiness. Just seeing the dog gives those ladies something to look forward to and something to keep them going.
Being in the W.O.O.F program has given my family a reason to be proud of me, even in a place like this. I owe Ms. Julie Drexel a lot and thank her so very much for the opportunity to turn my life around. Without her, none of this would be possible. I no longer see myself as a worthless inmate, but as a woman with meaning.”
If you would like to learn more about our W.O.O.F. prison-service-dog-training program and how you can help us save a veteran and an inmate with every well-trained service dog, please visit our website.
W.O.O.F. – An Effective Prison- Service-Dog-Training Program – Women Offering Obedience & Friendship
In June 2011, Patriot Services Dogs partnered with the FL Department of Corrections. In a cottage-like setting on the grounds of Lowell Correctional Center in Marion County, FL. 24 female inmates participated in the training of 12 dogs.
Marion County Humane Society selects 5 of its dogs in need of basic obedience. This 8-week training course includes commands such as “sit”, “stay” and basic leash training, making the dogs more adoptable. 100% of our W.O.O.F.-trained dogs have found forever homes. Every 8 weeks, a new class of dogs enters the program.
The other W.O.O.F. inmates are each assigned to a Patriot Service dog-in-training. She is responsible for training her dog along the PSD guidelines as well as the complete care of her dog. We use volunteer weekend raisers to expose the prison pups to experiences such as riding in cars, going to restaurants and stores, etc.
You can read more about the “W.O.O.F.” prison service-dog training program and see the dogs currently available by logging onto the Florida Department of Corrections or Marion County Human Society. You can follow and join their Facebook page. If you are interested in donating or volunteering, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.