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Puppies Behind Bars was founded in 1997 with the mandate to train inmates to raise puppies to be guide dogs for the blind.
PBB staff works within four correctional facilities. In New York these are: Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum-security facility for women located in Westchester County, Fishkill Correctional Facility, a medium-security, men's facility in Dutchess County, and Mid Orange Correctional Facility, a medium-security men's facility in Orange Country. In addition, PBB operates at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, New Jersey. Our expansion to a federal correctional insitution in Danbury Conneciticut is imminent. We currently have severnty inmates working to raise 40 potential guide dogs. Puppies enter each facility at the age of eight weeks and live there until they reach the age of eighteen months. At this point, the dogs are tested to determine whether they have the confidence to go on to professional guide dog training. Inmates are taught special techniqes in dog handling and training and work actively to maximize the confidence, good manners, and well-being of the puppies. Classes in dog handling and training, with particularl focus on issues facing the blind, are held once or twice weekly in each facility. In addition, PBB makes available to inmate puppy raisers the opportunity to participate in a nationally-recognized correpondence class for training to be a veterinary assistant with the intention of helping inmates to obtain a marketable skill and increase employment opportunities upon release. The primary goal of PBB is to raise puppies that will be suitable for guide dog work. The program simultaneously provides incarcerated individuals with a means of working toward something positive and contributing to society. For many inmate puppy raisers, paritcipation in this program is their first exposure to persoanl success and feelings of accoplishment.PBB puppies are sent to guide dog schools across the country and are paired with blind individuals upon graduation. In the event that our dogs do not become professional guides, they are donated to be loving, trustworth pets to families children who are blind or otherwise handicapped.
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