The head facilitator penned a piece describing a recent dog program graduation. “On Oct. 3, Valley State prison (VSP) held it second Youth Offender Program (YOP) obedience dog graduation. It was a tremendous success. Our program is committed to assisting in the overall development and basic obedience training of rescued dogs that come into our care. We believe that rescue dogs deserve to be treated kindly and ultimately adopted by a family who can love them unconditionally. We had two of our beloved dogs graduate with flying colors, ‘Toby’ who is a Chihuahua/Dauchsund mix, and ‘Hank’ who is a cocker spaniel.”
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) joined forces with the Office of Public and Employee Communications (OPEC) to broadcast the San Diego prison’s first-ever Facebook Live video. Krissi Khokhobashvili, deputy chief of the Office of External Affairs, with the organization and filming skills of Public Information Officers Ike Dodson and Allie Powell, and the help from some curious viewers, interviewed RJD staff and inmates on their experiences living and working in a program-focused facility.
For a few dozen high school students, Tuesday’s morning session was anything but normal. As the Florin High School students took their seats in the school’s theater, CDCR K-9 officers waited patiently in the wings for the session to begin.
It may come as a surprise to most inmates and staff at Correctional Training Facility (CTF) that a dog “training” program does not exist in the institution. CTF is one of only two prisons in the entire country that employ a revolutionary approach to educating – not training – service dogs. Jennifer Arnold, Founder and Executive Director of Canine Assistance, created Bond-Based Choice Teaching to reframe the human-canine relationship in love rather than domination.
The second group from Sierra Conservation Center’s (SCC) Prisoners Uniting People and Puppies (PUPP) recently graduated eight former shelter dogs who completed the 12- week program and received their K-9 good citizen certification.
An inmate-trained dog named Tilda is off to fulfill her now deceased trainer’s final wishes by helping crime victims. In June 2016, Tilda arrived at California Health Care Facility so the pup could be trained by one of the inmates. She was 4 months old when offender Ken Millikan began working with her. Getting Tilda trained in the basics, Millikan would encourage other inmate trainers to see the program as a way to help make amends for their past misdeeds. “I cannot change the things I have done in the past, but I can help somebody else have a better future by raising this puppy,” he would often say to the other handlers.