Madison, an 11-month-old golden retriever mix, is very ‘treat oriented’ according to inmate trainer Winona Fletcher. “Madison is very smart. She learns very fast and gets it right away,” her trainer said. “She can carry just about anything. Actually when she gets bored she starts bringing you things whether you want them or not.” Madison is in her first year of training.
AK DOC Dogs in Training
Dedicated to the Alaska Department of Corrections Cell Dog and Service Dog Training Goals and Accomplishments
Purebred AKC-registered Labrador Cooper is the only male service dog in training at HMCC. “He’s the only boy in a sea of girls,” said inmate trainer Cindy Galvan. “Cooper is a slow learner, but once he gets it he’s perfect.” Cooper came to HMCC from a breeder in Illinois through the assistance of Sister Pauline Quinn. “He hasn’t figured out the light switches, but he takes the garbage out every day. He’s going to be a great service dog because he has the perfect temperament. Cooper is in his first year of training.
Bella, a year-old English Labrador, is at the midpoint of her first year of training as a service dog. “She has about a year to go,” said inmate trainer Dana Hilbish. “She has learned to take socks off, and she’s very good at bringing items to you and bringing items to someone else. You just have to watch to make sure actually leaves the item where it is being sent!” Bella has also learned to open and close doors.
“Baylee is a clown. And a climber,” said inmate trainer Tamara Riley of HMCC senior class member Baylee, a mixed breed Labrador mix with “a lot of energy.” Baylee will likely be paired with a veteran with PTSD and is in the final stages of training. “Baylee will be perfect for a person with PTSD,” said her trainer. “She is really good about looking around corners and keeping a perimeter. She is very attentive and she loves her humans.” Baylee is not a fancy breed dog but is proving a natural service dog. “She’s a natural. She picks items up and can turn light switches on and off.”
Currently, five dogs are being trained by inmates at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center to assist Alaskans with disability. Here are the latest photos of these are young students!
The cat is Emmy, a long-time resident given the task of providing a disincentive to shrews and mice to reside in the greenhouse. The cat is with Cooper, a service dog trainee donated to the program by a breeder in Illinois through connections made with Arctic Paws for Service and Sr. Pauline Quinn. The black lab is Bella. The other trainees are Sophi, Madison and Baylee. It will be as long as a year before the first of these young students graduates and begin a new life as a valued assistant to a disabled owner.
Click on THIS LINK to see Sr. Pauline Quinn’s work with a prison dog program in Poland.