bringing hope and and pride
and Veteran's Lives
and deliver independence and security
Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) trains prison inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. Puppies enter prison at the age of 8 weeks and live with their inmate puppy-raisers for approximately 24 months. As the puppies mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs, their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it. PBB programs bring the love and healing of dogs to hundreds of individuals every year. The dogs bring hope and pride to their raisers, and independence and security to those they serve.
Our Graduates Change
Lives in the Community
● 159 services dogs have been trained placed with those in need.
● 443 bomb detection dogs trained and graduated the program.
● 12 puppies graduated and were placed as a child’s companion
● 2 therapy dogs are now in service.
● 84 guide dogs have been trained to help the visually impaired.
Although specifics of PBB’s program have evolved over time, the organization has remained true to its core mission: training inmates to raise exceptional working dogs. We currently train service dogs for wounded war veterans and explosive-detection canines (EDCs) for law enforcement.
Our goals are to train the best working dogs available, to keep the dogs happy and healthy, to train the inmate puppy raisers in our program to be skilled dog handlers, and to maintain a high “graduation” rate, with approximately 75% of our dogs going on to lead successful and productive working lives. (Dogs that do not graduate are released for adoption.)
We train excellent working dogs by offering rigorous instruction and guidance to the inmates in our program. The dogs receive 24-hour-a-day attention from their inmate puppy raisers, from the age of 8 weeks until they leave our program between the ages of 12 and 24 months. We adapt constantly our instruction and dog training methods based on our own experience, on input from other experts, and on feedback from the veterans and law enforcement officers who are ultimately paired with our dogs. We achieve high graduation rates by carefully selecting dogs with ideal characteristics for working life, and through the flexibility that training two different types of working dogs lends our program. This allows us to switch a dog’s career path if its response to early training indicates that a change might lead to greater success. The dogs, in this sense, choose the career for which they are best suited.
PBB’s staff includes six full- and part-time instructors, who teach in seven correctional facilities. Approximately 140 inmates participate in our program as puppy raisers. Members of our instructional staff also conduct two to four “team training” sessions annually, during which veterans and first responders are paired, and learn to work with, their new Dog Tags service dogs. PBB’s finances are healthy, with a broad base of individual and foundation support allowing us to maintain our programs.