I was first introduced to Puppies Behind Bars when I watched a special on Animal Planet. This non-profit organization is the brainchild of Gloria Gilbert Stoga. Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) is a program in which specially-selected prisoners from participating prisons are trained in the preparation of a puppy to become a service dog for the handicapped, a service dog/companion for a handicapped veteran returning from the Middle East (latest program), or detection dogs to serve for police forces.
My wife and I were so moved when we watched the program. It is a win-win situation in all respects. First, it gives a prisoner, who may never have the chance to be released, to give back to the community by participating in this program and donating every moment of every day working, loving, and training a puppy for future service. It is difficult for them at the one year mark because they have bonded with the dog, but they realize the importance of this program. In addition, the majority of them have the opportunity (for the first time in their lives) to experience unconditional love through an animal/human bond.
Second, the program saves tens of thousands of dollars that it would cost to train these dogs through traditional channels. All donations to the program are used to buy dog food, training supplies, and veterinary care.
Finally, our society benefits from service dogs which can detect bombs, search and rescue humans after a major disaster, or become the lifeline for a handicapped person. The last of these goes far beyond the fact that dogs can open refrigerators, retrieve items, answer the phone or a dozen other daily tasks. They give a sense of freedom back to an individual who has had it taken away be it by illness, accident, or warfare.
Because of this we have given constant monetary support of this magnificent program. We believe that Gloria works tirelessly to expand the program to additional prisons as well as institute new programs such as the 'Dog Tags' program which provides a service dog for a handicapped soldier.
This program has impacted people beyond imagination and that is why I believe that Gloria should be nominated a hero.
Submitted by Anonymous
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