MUNCY – A program that relies on prison inmates to train future service dogs is benefiting from the help of local veterinarians. The generously volunteered service is helping to continue State Correctional Institution at Muncy’s mission of training puppies to serve people with physical disabilities.
“We are extremely fortunate to have local veterinarians willing to provide free care for these dogs,” said SCI Muncy Superintendent Nancy Giroux. “Without their services, a significant financial burden would be placed on the prison and on Canine Partners for Life.”
Canine Partners for Life, a non-profit organization based in Chester County, has been using inmates from several state correctional facilities to raise and train puppies during their first year of life.
During the first year, the dogs live with carefully-screened inmate trainers who teach them basic obedience skills. After one year, the dogs are returned to Canine Partners for Life for training focusing on the specific capacity in which the dog will assist an owner.
SCI Muncy currently has five dogs of various ages that are trained in the facility.
Additionally, the canines are socialized through trips to schools, nursing homes and other locations with the help of SCI Muncy staff, who volunteer their time. Through the efforts of staff, inmates and local veterinarians, the program is able to provide training to the dogs with no cost to taxpayers or the CPL organization.
“This program provides valuable life and career skills while instilling a sense of responsibility, discipline and social awareness for the inmates involved and gives them an opportunity to give back to the community,” said Giroux.
The veterinary offices that currently provide complimentary services are Loyalsock Animal Hospital, Lewisburg Animal Care Hospital and Muncy Veterinary Center.
These services include check-ups, preventative medications and 24-hour emergency care as needed.
Other state prisons that work to train service dogs with Canine Partners for Life include Albion, Muncy and Smithfield.
To learn more about Canine Partners for Life, visit www.k94life.org.