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Putting puppies in prison
November 7, 2007 6:54 PM   Subscribe

"Puppies Behind Bars" gives cute lil pups to hardened prison inmates, who train them to eventually be guide dogs and police bomb sniffers. The puppies teach the convicts as much, if not more. Being responsible 24/7 for a dog can turn the most hardened criminal's life around. "This is my way of doing something to reparate," says one murderer. Some say it's their first taste of unconditional love. "The strongest guy in here's going to get that lump in his throat," says an inmate. The dogs get weekend furloughs to NYC so they can get used to city streets. No convict who trained a puppy has gone back to prison after being paroled.
posted by CunningLinguist (60 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a particularly nice photo, from the second link.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:58 PM on November 7, 2007


Some dude came by the store selling the photobook about that program today. He also hade about 10 boxes of similar coffe table art books. I helped him unload them from his car. We paid him $900 for the lot.

The cheap bastard didn't tip me one red cent. Send him to prison. Without a puppy.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


To "reparate"?
posted by RogerB at 7:11 PM on November 7, 2007


looking at my 105 pound pure bred German Shepherd law enforcement dog laying on the couch behind me. You'll never have a better friend or a worse enemy in your life.

sappy I suppose....but I'm a dog guy

/hairalloverthedamnedplace
posted by timsteil at 7:16 PM on November 7, 2007


I think there is supposed to be a Michael Vick joke in here somewhere, but I can't think of one. Or maybe something about dogs being able to be trained into deadly weapons, but since it's just puppies I think it's ok.

Seems like a great program. Thanks for the links.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:29 PM on November 7, 2007


NO TOUCHING!

sorry, reflex...
posted by heeeraldo at 7:35 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


There was a series about this a few years ago on The Animal Planet. Lots of smiles, and tears.
posted by netbros at 7:36 PM on November 7, 2007


Puppies - is there nothing they can't do?
posted by gomichild at 7:37 PM on November 7, 2007 [10 favorites]


Dammit, you just made me cry.
posted by spec80 at 7:39 PM on November 7, 2007


This couldn't be done with cats. Dogs rule.
posted by orange swan at 7:53 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


dogs being able to be trained into deadly weapons

Actually they always were deadly weapons, pretty much the reason there are still dogs around. I haven't seen many dogs eatin a salad

My guy loves to chase rabbitts and squirrels, and nine times out of ten he is one chomp away from having them for lunch...but always lets them go. Just likes to chase them.

He's barked at me twice in the years I've had him. Once not long ago when he had come and dropped his tennis ball at my feet several times and I was giving him the brush off because I was busy.

Other time was the day after I got him. My son and I were running around the house goofing off with one of those Nerf dart gun things, and I pointed it at him and pulled the trigger.

Out of nowhere came this dog in midair, grabbed me by the right forearm and knocked me on my ass. Got right in my face and barked, then ran over and started licking my son's face making sure he was ok.

Broke the skin on my arm a little, but that was just from the fall, not because he bit so hard.

get too close to one of my kids and he will just back you into the corner with his nose and hold you there til I come.

Otherwise, man's best friend. Incredibly protective, trained and disciplined, and the reason I don't need to lock my doors.
posted by timsteil at 7:59 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aw, that's a sweet, wonderful thing. Thanks for posting it. Dogs DO rule.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 7:59 PM on November 7, 2007


I remember reading a story one time, long ago, which might well have been apocryphal. There was a kid that had gone completely catatonic, and nothing they tried could reach him.

They ended up putting a puppy in his room with him. And as puppies will, it played around and got into everything, but it also kept climbing on him, and nuzzling him, and demanding attention from him. Eventually he moved his hand and started petting it -- and after that he began to improve.

Or so the story went.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:00 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I found this - Hank the therapy dog wakes man from coma. Pretty heartwarming too.

Seriously, dogs rule. With all the cat posts around here, I figured it was time for some dog love.


I saw therapy dogs in my dad's nursing home. For many patients, a brief visit from a good dog was the best part of the week, often the only good part.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:09 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've actually seen an episode of Lockup where prisoners cared for wild cats that lived around the relatively isolated property. Not the same as this, of course, but it was still pretty touching. The prisoners said they felt a bond between them and the cats because they lived and survived in the same harsh environment. They also said that the cats were like their children, especially to the lifers.

Anyway, I love programs like these and wish there were more around the country. They benefit both the animals and the prisoners. There really isn't any downside to it as far as I can see.
posted by puke & cry at 8:25 PM on November 7, 2007


Out here you can buy dogs trained by prisoners. I've considered getting one since Silver the Superdog needs a partner. Thing is, those dogs are WAY more disciplined than Silver currently is. Man I am slacking.
posted by Eekacat at 8:26 PM on November 7, 2007


Oh, and yes, dogs rule, and there are really several great photos in that second link. I like this one too.
posted by Eekacat at 8:29 PM on November 7, 2007


This one's my favorite. So sweet. Thanks for posting this.
posted by Quidam at 8:37 PM on November 7, 2007


I love cats, I've always had them and I can account for their worth as therapy as well as their friendship- a peculiar, conditional, but still worthwhile friendship.

I also love dogs and they can for sure provide the kind of unconditional love that would really help a person who never had that experience in their life. My current dog is a little nutcase of a thing (not that I don't adore her, I was just saying tonight how amazing it was that we live with these alien creatures so far removed from our own evolutionary path and yet we commune with them so successfully).

I've had a few big bastard dogs in my time, some half pitbulls rescued from the pound, what sweet and amazing creatures they all were, bred for fighting, basically created to shed blood, all muscle, mistreated cruelly, bred for that crazy impulse to chew up any enemy and yet every single one I had, if treated with love and respect, was the kindest, softest and most loyal creature I have ever known. I sure do love a good dog.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:42 PM on November 7, 2007


There was a series about this a few years ago on The Animal Planet. Lots of smiles, and tears.

yeah, i saw that on animal planet. by some strange coincidence, a lot of smoke suddenly filled up my living room while the program was on. luckily, i managed to wipe my face before anyone accused me of tearing up, because that's certainly not what i was doing. certainly not.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:46 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dogs in prisons can also help inmates escape.
posted by mtevis at 8:55 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ugh. I'm sitting here at the computer with a Border Collie/Lab mix staring at me wantonly, just aching for a walk. Up until now I was planning on just giving her a rawhide and letting it be. Now, I'll leash her up and jog her around the block.

Thanks, asshole.

(seriously, great post!)
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:21 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Awesomeness.
posted by Alex404 at 9:40 PM on November 7, 2007


thank you so much for this post.
posted by CitizenD at 9:50 PM on November 7, 2007


This was a plot line on Oz a few years back.
posted by stevil at 9:51 PM on November 7, 2007


So far, puppies are the best argument I've found for the existence of a higher power.
posted by chlorus at 9:57 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


To "reparate"?

Since reparation is a noun meaning 'the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury', to reparate is reasonable stab at the appropriate verb. He's probably not aware that 'to make reparations' is the standard usage.

Anyway. Fascinating program. Assuming prison is actually about rehabilitation, and not merely punishment and incarceration of the dangerous and unwanted, this strikes me as something with no downside. Excellent program, great post.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:30 PM on November 7, 2007


This rocks. Thanks for reminding me why I visit this place.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:30 PM on November 7, 2007


SCDB might be thinking of this book. (I trust the magic script will sort that Amazon link out for me).

Oh, and this is a lovely post of course.
posted by GeckoDundee at 10:42 PM on November 7, 2007


[via], sorta ;-)
posted by dhartung at 10:44 PM on November 7, 2007


I went to hear Michael Korda read from his horse book a while ago....he mentioned that there's a similar program with inmates and retired racehorses. BUT, once these people get out they can't get jobs at racetracks because they'll violate their parole.
posted by brujita at 11:18 PM on November 7, 2007


What's special about racetracks that violates parole? Is this some specific group of criminals?
posted by jacalata at 11:23 PM on November 7, 2007


Glorious! Dogs are the best.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:30 PM on November 7, 2007


The quote that got me was "this is one more nail I can pull out of my heart".
posted by jrochest at 11:59 PM on November 7, 2007


And here I am, being a buzzkill.

Most of the law-enforcement dogs you see out there are crap. It's a great, feel-good story, but god, the dogs I've seen are just rubbish. When I go to the airport, I get douche-chills seeing handlers dragging around dogs who don't even know why they're there.

Dog training isn't rocket science, sure, but it isn't the domain of anyone who doesn't have a well-rounded education, either.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 12:06 AM on November 8, 2007


freshwater_pron, frankly, I don't think I care. Maybe K9 dogs aren't the right target for this program...but aren't these prisoners essentially prepping the dogs for further training, not doing the final training itself?

Anyway, I'm so happy to have read about this. Thanks.
posted by maxwelton at 12:39 AM on November 8, 2007


jacalata not racetracks per se, but the location...parolees have to stay within certain boundaries.
posted by brujita at 1:00 AM on November 8, 2007


Just goes to show that most criminals end up where they are because of a lack of love and positive parenting during their formative years.

Again, the breakdown of the family is to blame.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:22 AM on November 8, 2007


I take it this was the successor to the failed "Kittens Incarcerated" program, which taught felons how to be miserable bastards only interested in themselves and where their next meal is coming from.
posted by Sparx at 3:17 AM on November 8, 2007 [6 favorites]


From what I know of how guide dogs are raised, the usual procedure is to give them to a family who won't give them formal training, but basic socialization. So I personally wouldn't be worried about inmates' incompetence as trainers.

The law enforcement dogs I've seen are fantastic, mellow and obedient in front of fifty squeaky schoolkids. But the airport dogs are mostly beagles, if I'm not mistaken--because they're small and adorable (not likely to raise suspicions) and have good noses. And beagles are, alas, kind of dumb.
posted by Jeanne at 4:17 AM on November 8, 2007


these dogs, they walk funny?
posted by quonsar at 4:45 AM on November 8, 2007


This couldn't be done with cats.

Actually, yes it can.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:32 AM on November 8, 2007


This couldn't be done with cats. Dogs rule.

Couldn't be done with anteaters either. Who cares? Dogs vs. cats is an inane argument.
posted by agregoli at 7:04 AM on November 8, 2007


Dogs vs. cats is an inane argument.

On the contrary, I think it's a fundamental and therefore important dividing line. Like the Beatles vs the Stones or flight vs invisibility.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:28 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Damn, CL - you took one of my only ideas for a front page post. So, here's two videos of greyhound-based inmate programs. Both the inmates and the dogs are painfully cute.

And flight, obviously. Who needs to be invisible when you can FLY!?
posted by god hates math at 7:51 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have never understood this "dogs vs. cats" thing. I love both and I'm sure lots of other people do, too.
posted by OolooKitty at 7:57 AM on November 8, 2007


Great post. And jrochest, ditto.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:06 AM on November 8, 2007


I take it this was the successor to the failed "Kittens Incarcerated" program

...which was abandoned after a riot in which inmates, after seizing control of the main gates, stood in the entranceway, unwilling to either escape or return.
posted by pernoctalian at 8:07 AM on November 8, 2007 [8 favorites]


With have the pictures I just want to slip into a baby voice and say "Oh who's a good puppy!? You are! You are!" Those pictures also make me want to slap myself.
posted by Weebot at 8:11 AM on November 8, 2007


With have the pictures I just want to slip into a baby voice and say "Oh who's a good puppy!? You are! You are!"

I tried talking like that while visiting a prison once. In the absence of any actual dogs being present, I would not recommend it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:46 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Further evidence for my theory that people who are cruel to animals are the worst kind of criminals. Even murderers and rapists can have redeeming qualities.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


god hates math: I only had a chance to watch a little of that first video, but thank you! I think my favorite part (as an owner of a beautiful retired racer myself) was the dogs all lying flat on the grass. My girl loves to do this; sunbathing is her favorite thing.

Warning: gratuitous doggy picture links above.
posted by misskaz at 9:24 AM on November 8, 2007


On the contrary, I think it's a fundamental and therefore important dividing line.

Both sides make some compelling arguments.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who needs to be invisible when you can FLY!?

You know, I bet there's a correlation between cat people and invisibility, and dog people and fliers. Wish I could take a poll. Where's Hodgman when you need him?
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:02 AM on November 8, 2007


gomichild : Puppies - is there nothing they can't do?

Easily get the peanut-butter off the roof of their mouths?
posted by quin at 10:10 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Like the Beatles vs the Stones or flight vs invisibility.

It's easy to find flaws if you look carefully enough. Can you only fly the same speed that you can run? My, that would suck. Does invisibility extend to objects you're wearing, or do you have to be naked all the time? 'Cause that could be problematic during the winter time.

Cats are self-absorbed bastards. But that makes them independent, so they can take care of themselves--not just bathing, but also emotionally cats are better-equipped to handle extended absences. Dogs provide unconditional love, but this relationship comes at a price: if you need to go on a vacation during the first year of your puppy's life... well, don't. Unless you were planning on getting some new furniture, anyway. There's also having to carry around those diminutive, demeaning plastic baggies when you go for a walk outside.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:14 AM on November 8, 2007


I don't know what this guy did to get in prison, but this statement just breaks my heart:

"That I still got compassion. I'm still basically a human being."

Thanks for the post. I'm gonna go hug my puppies.
posted by teleri025 at 12:58 PM on November 8, 2007


You can be *my* cute lil pup, Fresh Fish. Come here and snuggle with Poppa!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:59 PM on November 8, 2007


MissKaz, my parents just adopted two retired racing greyhounds, and they are the sweetest dogs I've ever met. Sinfully lazy, but sweet.
posted by Marquise at 1:16 PM on November 8, 2007


They did this on Oz. I don't remember how it turned out.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:41 PM on November 9, 2007


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