It’s hard to ignore the power of the relationship between dogs and humans. Spending time around dogs fosters patience, compassion and intuition in special ways.
An organization in Camden, New Jersey, is proving just how powerful the relationship between dogs and humans can be by bringing rescued dogs to a local prison to be trained by inmates and later be placed with veterans suffering from PTSD.
Camden County Department of Corrections’ Friends 4 Vets program is the first of its kind in New Jersey and one of only a few across the country.
All of the dogs selected for the program are taken from local shelters and were not guaranteed forever homes.
Through the program, inmates from the Camden County Correctional Facility are able to train those sweet rescue dogs. The program gives the inmates an opportunity to contribute to society and guarantees a forever home for the dogs.
“There is a lot of hard work that goes into the training and discipline of these dogs,” one of the inmates, Anthony Saulters, said according to WTXF. “I truly believe this program will help a lot of inmates with several aspects of their lives – be it anger, grieving, and most importantly, being responsible.”
In the few months that the dogs stay with the inmates, they learn basic commands like sit, stay and come.
Once the dogs are trained, they are prepared to be placed with veterans who, because of PTSD, are struggling to adjust back to civilian life at no cost to them.
“It’s a total collaboration between the inmates, the dogs, the veterans,” said Rev. Floyd White of the Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs. “On behalf of Camden County, we’re grateful.”
According to WTXF, the program is now in its third year and just celebrated a graduation ceremony on Dec. 10, 2018.
John Young, a Camden County freeholder, said that the county is currently searching for more ways to fund this program due to its overwhelming success.
“It’s really easy to say yes to programs like this when we know they have such a great effect on the population that’s coming out,” Young told NJ Pen. “The inmates are really starting to get the benefit. They’re changing every day with these dogs. It’s working.”
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