RJ Donovan’s canine program supports local veterans

Warden Daniel Paramo, Coach Lute Olson and TLCAD POOCH program staff Stephanie Santos, with black Lab puppy named Donovan. The puppy was named after an inmate fundraiser donated $5,000 to TLCAD to name the puppy. The pup, when old enough, is bound for the POOCH program at RJDCF.

Warden Daniel Paramo, Coach Lute Olson and TLCAD POOCH program staff Stephanie Santos, with black Lab puppy named Donovan. The puppy was named after an inmate fundraiser donated $5,000 to TLCAD to name the puppy. The pup, when old enough, is bound for the POOCH program at RJDCF.

By Robert Brown, Community Resources Manager
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

The Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF) and Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs (TLCAD) joint Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Hope (POOCH) Service Dog Program recently held a fundraiser.

The fundraiser was hosted by Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and raised thousands of dollars for TLCAD. The POOCH Service Dog Program allows inmates to raise and train service dogs for Wounded Warriors and Children with autism. The dogs that graduate from the POOCH program are Assistance Dogs International (ADI) certified.

Hall of Fame College Basketball Coach Lute Olson was in attendance to support the POOCH program.

“I’m impressed that the inmates and RJDCF staff are helping these Wounded Warriors and kids with autism get a new lease on life,” he said.

At this fundraiser, several clients who received dogs told moving stories on how these animals have transformed their lives and in some cases have saved them from deep depression.

“When you feel like you’ve lost everything and there is nowhere to go — and for me that nowhere was an attempted suicide — a service dog gave me something else to think about,” Army Capt. Marlene Krpata said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that approximately 30 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The POOCH program is designed to give back and help heal our country’s heroes by placing custom trained service dogs with wounded warriors.

There is a need in San Diego County for service animals, and RJDCF’s staff hopes that the POOCH program will go a long way to help our heroes.

Warden Daniel Paramo said the POOCH Program will be moving from its current location at the RJDCF Firehouse to inside the facility where the POOCH program could train more dogs to help this deserving population.

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3 Responses

  1. estela.acosta@cdcr.ca.gov Tuesday, November 24, 2015 / 10:25 am

    Inspiration and hope … good to see how the pooches are trained to “give back” to our wounded warriors and provide assistance to those with autism. Great story, Robert.

  2. Elizabeth Henshaw Tuesday, November 24, 2015 / 9:40 am

    This is a program that helps the inmates make a difference in the lives of autistic children and wounded warriors. The raising and training of service dogs is therapeutic for the inmates, too. This is a win-win outcome. I love hearing about such inspirational CDCR programs. Keep up the good work!

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