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Puppies in Prison

 

A partnership between Mobility Dogs and the Department of Corrections

In July 2008 the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust (Mobility Dogs) and the Department of Corrections launched New Zealand’s first ‘Puppies in Prisons’   programme.  We have been successfully operating the programme in the Wiri prison for nearly 10 years and in the Spring Hill prison for five years. The partnership between the Department of Corrections and Mobility Dogs goes a long way to provide highly trained Mobility Dogs to meet the growing demand from New Zealand’s physically disabled community .Given that the Trust at present has over 60  working dogs in New Zealand communities it is innovative programmes such as this partnership between Corrections and Mobility Dogs that will ensure that more Mobility Dogs are available to work in the community.

 

Mobility Dogs Trainers work with the prisoners

Mobility Dogs trainers carry out a well defined training programme whereby the prisoner handlers are guided in aspects of animal learning, behaviour, motivation, and development. The prisoners are being offered the opportunity to learn new skills, be an integral part of a meaningful relationship and also to contribute to the wider community. Commitment, self discipline, study, reporting, teamwork and leadership are all elements and outcomes of the programme.

 

Corporate Assistance

An essential component of raising and training dogs in a prison environment is socialising the dogs outside the prison.  Mars New Zealand, who sponsor all our dogs with their Nutro food product have stepped in to assist. On a regular basis, Associates from Mars support the Trust by either puppy raising, or assisting with short term placements of older dogs.  This is a significant committment from Mars New Zealand and one that we are extremely grateful for.

 

The prisoners working with Mobility Dogs

Prisoners involved internationally in these types of programmes have stated to researchers looking into the effects of caring for dogs in prisons that being part of the programme provided a purpose in their lives, taught them patience and responsibility, and instilled in them respect for others. Staff working with prisoners that cared for the dogs reported that the programme had big benefits for the prisoners involved, including developing pro-social behaviours, building a sense of self esteem, and instilling in them responsibility through the absolute care of the animal.

 

 

 

 

 

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