North Dakota inmates train service dogs

There's a special bond between a man and his dog. Service Dogs for America is giving that opportunity to inmates in North Dakota prisons. 

A group of inmates at the Missouri River Correctional Center in Bismarck have a special job -- training service dogs.

"I like dogs. It kind of is a taste of the real world inside a place that's not always fun, you know?" said inmate Donald Tschakert.

It's called the Inmate Canine Assistance program. It's been at the facility for the past three years and Joseph Joyce, the deputy warden, has noticed a difference in the handlers.

He said, "They get really attached to something that before, when they were on the streets, they really didn't care about anything. Now they have a purpose while here, and hopefully it extends to when they get released."

The dogs are trained anywhere from 10 weeks to a year at MRCC. This current group of 6 month old Labrador puppies have been there here for a month and they get nothing short than a lot of attention from the inmates.

Inmate Scott Kruckenberg said,"They all love the dogs. They want to cuddle them and treat them like a pet. So, it's kind of hard to train them and be responsible and let them have fun"

It's the inmate handlers job is to teach them 5 basic commands: sit, stay, come, down, heel. Knowing the dogs could go to someone who needs them is what encourages many of them to do it.

Tschakert said, "That's the whole goal is to kind of get her to help someone as much as she's helped me."
"You know, everyone deserves a second chance. This might be my chance to help others and give back to the community," added inmate Michael Bates.

The handlers put a lot of time training these puppies to become successful service dogs. However it seems that the dogs also teach the inmates one important lesson.

"Patience," said Bates. Tschakert also added,"Oh, patience mostly, I suppose." "Patience, responsibility," says Kruckenberg.

Once the dogs leave MRCC, they'll receive additional training, and hopefully get chosen to go to someone in need.

Since 2008, over 100 dogs have gone through the training at the 3 North Dakota prisons with the program. That's MRCC, Jamestown, and the state penitentiary.
 


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