Story by J. Prado, Tim Galvan and Antonio Leyba
Photos by Lt. Roland Ramon, AA/PIO
Correctional Training Facility
Dog handler J. Prado gives his first-person account of the impact a rehabilitative program has had on him, the institution and the community beyond the walls. Others also contributed to this report.
The New Life K-9 (NLK9) dog program here at Correctional Training Facility at Soledad has deeply impacted my life. I have been given a tremendous responsibility in being entrusted with my puppy, Jett. I have been given a mission to teach him to be a service dog for a United States military veteran or first-responder suffering from PTSD or any other physical disability.
NLK9 has been truly transformational for me, the prison, and the community at large. The NLK9 service dog program has given me a purpose in life and has made me see the importance of being productive and responsible. It has helped the prison environment by giving inmates a positive incentive to rehabilitate themselves by helping others. It has shown staff that there are inmates who are serious about change and giving back. The NLK9 program will ultimately help society by providing a service dog to those who have served our country and protected our communities.
Recently, retired Police Officer Greg D. Gallo, who was an officer for 18 years, visited CTF. He now suffers from PTSD. He explained to all the NLK9 handler team how debilitating PTSD can be and how important of a job they are doing for society. When I asked what his service dog did for him he responded without hesitation, “Bruno saved my life, he gave me a reason to live and helped me enjoy my family and make memories again.”
Greg’s story has given us dog handlers a deeper understanding and greater respect for what Officers do to help our communities.
The NLK9 Service Dog program and my puppy Jett are helping me in my efforts of rehabilitation and I look forward to the expansion of rehabilitative programs in CDCR. I am thankful for this opportunity to give back.
Another handler stated, “This program offers direction, purpose and responsibility inside the prison walls. The NLK9 program has given me a life mission, to be of service to those who make this country a better place.”