By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications
Sarah Brown-Monroe, volunteer dog trainer at Valley State Prison, contacted Inside CDCR to let us know about a recent story in the Valiant, a monthly newsletter produced by the Veterans Administration Central California Veterans Outreach Committee. The piece featured inmate rehabilitation and the April 8 graduation of service dogs.
“Five service dogs were paired with veterans after successfully completing a special training program at Valley State Prison men’s facility, southeast of Chowchilla. … After a six-month long training program, the dogs graduated and promoted to permanent homes with service connected veterans in need of emotional and/or physical support. Four out of the five dogs were rescue dogs from the Fresno Humane Society. Now officially the Veterans Service Dog Program, the original goal was to help dogs from the Madera Animal Shelter become more adoptable,” the newsletter article states. “The program started in 2010 thanks to Warden Ray Fisher, Jr., who was the first to green light the idea after years of rejection. … Good behavior is the number one factor for inmates to be chosen to train dogs at the prison. In addition with helping veterans cope with a number of issues, the dogs also help with rehabilitation for the inmates, many of whom shared stories during the graduation ceremony, of how the dogs have changed their lives and helped them grow. Each of the dogs are now fully certified service animals.”