The grant will support their prison training program to prepare service dogs for placement with people with disabilities. The Washington-based organization operates in collaboration with the CHI program, Canines and Heroes for Independence. Prisoners will care for, feed, groom and train the dogs they are provided with for service.
“Brigadoon Service Dogs provides a unique two-tiered system that Planet Dog is happily willing to support,” said Kristen Smith, executive director of the Planet Dog Foundation. “Their work has shown to improve the lives of both prisoners and veterans and we buy into helping continue that practice.”
The grant will help to expand the amount of service dogs on staff, which will in turn reduce the waiting time for eligible veterans to receive a service dog. Currently, funding only supports seven inmates and seven dogs, but because of the demanding waitlist (1-2 years for veterans, 3-5 years for adults) they are looking to expand the program to support five more dogs.
“This year Brigadoon’s goal is to expand the Prison Program to reach more veterans in need of service dogs,” said Rebecca Pickthorn, assistant Director and volunteer Coordinator of Brigadoon Service Dogs. “With assistance from grants like Planet Dog Foundation we are able to waive the placement fee for service dogs to our wounded warriors and continue our expansion of our Prison Program.”
Currently, Cedar Creek Correctional Center is the only prison program for Brigadoon with seven dogs on site. Brigadoon can provide 10 service dogs per year to veterans, on average. With more soldiers returning from overseas, the demand for trained service dogs is increasing. Pickthorn is planning to accommodate those needs, but this time with imprisoned soldiers.
Inmates who train them are typically low-risk reoffenders while in prison so they are entrusted with a level of responsibility that will assist in their re-entry into the community. Recidivism rates for prisoners who have participated in the dog training program are far below the national average.