Warden Jim McKinney at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility in Michigan and Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester Hills, Michigan CEO Susan Daniels were hesitant to let prison inmates train guide dogs for the blind. The warden explains that the inmates little girl voice “oh a puppy” response to the initiation of the program promised no problems. Some resistance to the program was first experienced until Chief Programs Officer for Iowa Correctional Facilities Rod Haneline at a high to medium security facility with 1,300 inmates announced a complete success with 90 prison trained guide dogs. The first puppy raiser was a life sentence inmate that claims that he can have a chance to help someone outside the prison in a way he cannot achieve anywhere else. The man has been in prison for 45 years. He will die in prison.
Dennis Lass says dogs become like his children. He claims that puppies make the prison setting more peaceful. Inmates that are not directly involved participate in the dog’s development. Having reached an age where he no longer feels physically capable of raising a puppy Lass donates the little money he makes working in the prison to the Leader Dogs program.
This is a success story about animals and “hardened criminals” that should touch anyone’s heart and soul. Many companies and charities were involved in the program’s success.