LAC inmates earn dog-training certificates in Paws 4 Life program

Story and photos by Lt. Duane Bennett, AA/Public Information Officer
California State Prison-Los Angeles County

A ceremony at California State Prison-Los Angeles County (LAC) acknowledged the hard work of inmates to receive their dog-training certifications in the rehabilitative Paws for Life program.

Forty inmates are associated with Paws for Life, with an ever-increasing waiting list of inmates wanting to participate in the program that teaches them how to train rescue dogs in good behavior and socialization.

LAC currently has three dogs that have passed the Good Canine Citizenship program, which qualifies them to now go through the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) training for veterans and others suffering with PTSD. These dogs will receive specialized training via Karma Rescue, the nonprofit that operates Paws for Life, specific to helping people with PTSD.

The inmates’ family members were allowed to attend the ceremony. While talking with their family members some of the inmates’ statements about the program included: “This program not only helps the dogs, it also helps us as inmates to recognize who we are as people and the good we can do for others. It’s a win-win all the way around”; “The responsibility is challenging yet rewarding every time we go to the back to get the dogs for training and the dogs are happy to see us”; and, “That’s a feeling we never want to give up.”

Karma Rescue and LAC are hoping to increase the number of dogs for the PTSD training program. Associate Warden C. Woods and Capt. M. Wofford have been instrumental in the success of the program, going above and beyond to ensure the dogs are well taken care of, to include personally transporting them to the veterinary’s office when necessary. Woods has been with the program since its inception in June 2014.