Meet Hope and Hank. These two Labradors are the first to graduate from a dog-training program, which gives prisoners a chance to help the community.
Run out of the Maryborough Correctional Centre, inmates have been training these puppies to become assistance dogs for the community. Inmates have been working closely with the puppies, teaching them to do tasks like turn on lights, take off shoes and pick up various items.
Hope and Hank will now take their skills and use them to help a child with a disability.
As well as benefiting the community, the interaction with the dogs has also had a positive impact on the prisoners. A Queensland Correctional Centre spokesperson told the Fraser Coast Chronicle, “There were mixed emotions at the graduation with the dogs leaving, but the overriding feeling was one of satisfaction,” they said.
“The prisoners were played a DVD showing testimony from parents of children who previously received a dog. The response from the prisoners in attendance was that it ‘tore at the heart to watch’ but made them realise they were volunteering for a service that was making a real difference to people’s lives.”
The program was run in conjunction with the dog training organisation Smart Pups. Smart Pups CEO Patricia McAlister said that the prison environment often meant that the dogs could receive a lot more training. “The dogs are very popular in the prison and get a lot of attention.”
Four more dogs have been entered into the training program, with plans of another intake soon.
Watch this video of a similar program being run out of Stanley Correctional Institution