Note from Lt. M. Tuntakit, AA/PIO: Avenal State Prison (ASP) has completed its first round of training and it was a success.Not only did the dogs get trained to be able to help members of the society, but the inmate trainers feel they can give back to the community and show humanity. Here is what one trainer – M. Ledesma – wrote about the program.

By M. Ledesma

The wet tracks left each day by the birds have been rather lonely of late on the A-Yard field as the accompanying ones from dogs in training are gone. The inaugural group of pups sponsored by the Little Angles Service Dogs received last summer has moved on.

The program was set up to start basic training for the pups here, then ultimately be sent away for specific air-based training. Now, A-Yard awaits the next class of dogs to arrive.

This program, though started exclusively on A-Yard, is set to ultimately enable ASP to train about 60 dogs throughout the entire facility in time.

The process of an inmate obtaining certification to join in the dog training program begins with an application, and is made up of all volunteers. The five original pups started with two inmate trainers assigned to each, plus at least two rovers to cover the rigorously demanding training sessions.

The challenge was that each pup had its own personality and so some adapted to certain training orders at different times. The toughest command to learn for most was to heel.

There are a lot of ways CDCR can rehabilitate, and ASP has found the Little Angels Puppy Raiser Program to be a powerful tool for inmates to show compassion, love, patience, and hope. The trainers explained the pups are somewhat like them, they are rescued, brought to prison, and come out useful to society.