California Institution for Men launches new ‘Leash on Life’ program

Inmates train service dogs in the new Leash on Life program at California Institution for Men.

Inmates train service dogs in the new Leash on Life program at California Institution for Men.

By Lt. Daniel Tristan, AA/Public Information Officer
California Institution for Men

The California Institution for Men (CIM), in partnership with the non-profit Canine Support Team,  has recently implemented the “Leash on Life” program.

An inmate at CIM trains a dog to become a service animal for someone in the community.

An inmate at CIM trains a dog to become a service animal for someone in the community.

Part of the Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group (ILTAG), the program teaches inmates to train potential service dogs for future placement into homes of disabled clients. The goal is to provide those in the community who have disabilities with companionship, independence, enhanced mobility and a greater quality of life.

The potential services dogs are initially placed in the homes of volunteers until they are 18 months old. During this time the dogs are cared for, socialized and taught basic obedience. The dogs are then placed in the “Leash on Life” program and are paired with inmate trainers.

The service dogs are taught skills to assist disabled clients with tasks such as pulling manual wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on, barking to summon help during emergencies and much more.

Inmates participating in the “Leash on Life” program were selected through an application and interview process.  In addition to designated Primary Dog Handlers, Secondary Dog Handlers and Dog Sitters were designated and will be trained to become Primary Dog Handlers as the program develops.

Inmates participating in the “Leash on Life” program are taught dog training techniques by volunteers.  Each service dog is trained for approximately six months after which they are assessed for placement as a service dog.

The “Leash on Life” program at CIM currently is currently training three dogs and will introduce additional dogs as the program develops.  This ILTAG program provides a valuable service.

“It is a means for inmates to learn new skills and give back to our community.” said Warden Tim Perez.

CIM opened in San Bernardino County in 1941.  The institution consists of four separate facilities and houses approximately 3,800 male inmates.

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4 Responses

  1. Nathaniel Shaw, artist/author BeBop Friday, September 25, 2015 / 9:12 am

    I believe rehabilitation works. But it has to be appealing, inspirational with a real purpose that can be grasped by simple understanding. I’m not going to get into the road blocks that I suffered leaving me behind for years that could have been used in the victory made today. I see how it is I am not alone. More indeed can be done and I believe so much in this realism. Let’s start by more stories of successes seen today by the skills achieved while in prison and on the “streets.” I didn’t know I had visual art talent until the first day in a prison cell. I was able to mature this gift in prison away from familiar people, places and things. I am only one example. I bet more can be revealed by many others if sought. Such momentum in your media can be a great fireworks show. If more under the power and insanity of addiction could stop long enough to focus on the beginning of …

  2. Dana Viray Friday, September 25, 2015 / 8:55 am

    Thank you CIM and Canine Support Team! What a wonderful program, benefiting the lives of many. Awesome teamwork.

  3. T. Reece Friday, September 25, 2015 / 8:48 am

    Love seeing more and more of these programs implemented around the state. A wonderful sign that things are evolving inside as well as out.

  4. Sandra Warnock Friday, September 25, 2015 / 8:44 am

    Another excellent way to invest proactively and most productively! Thank you for persevering and blazing an effective trail to rehabilitation in more ways than one.

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