EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — For three decades, a Midwestern nonprofit has worked with prisons to train service dogs.
Can Do Canines, a nonprofit organization based in New Hope, Minnesota, partners with prisons to train service dogs.
“It’s a win-win for us. It’s a win-win for the prison system. It’s a wonderful system all around,” said Dyan Larson, Wisconsin program coordinator for Can Do Canines.
The organization operates in seven prisons including three in western Wisconsin.
“Stanley Jail, Jackson Correctional Facility, and Chippewa Valley Correctional Treatment Facility are the ones we deal with here in Wisconsin,” Larson said.
Larson says that through the program, with the help of prisons and volunteers, they are able to provide free trained service dogs to those in need.
“We train five different types of service dogs,” Larson said. “We have Autism Assistance Dogs, Diabetes Assistance Dogs, Seizure Assistance Dogs, Assistance Dogs, Hearing Assistance Dogs and Mobility Assistance Dogs.”
As a volunteer with the program for the past five years, Jackie Culver has seen the impact on those who receive the dogs.
“It’s just awesome,” Culver said. “You know, it changes their life. It allows them to lead a somewhat normal life that they could not lead. »
While dogs typically stay in prisons during the week, volunteers like Culver can bring training puppies home for the weekend or longer.
“I love being able to take them out and socialize them and see how quickly they can learn,” Larson said. “They’re so smart and there are amazing things they can learn that a lot of people wouldn’t even think of.”
Being able to place the dogs in social settings is important because Larson says if they stay in prison for their entire training, they might not be able to do their job.
“They wouldn’t be able to deal with the sight of the sounds of things they see outside in the real world and so we couldn’t have the dogs in jail because they couldn’t function in the real world” , Larson said.
Since the organization began, Larson says Can Do Canines has helped hundreds of people get trained service dogs for free.
“We have over 700 teams that we’ve graduated together over the past 30 years,” Larson said. “This year I think our target is something like 50, 55 teams.”
Larson says Can Do Canines is looking for volunteers to bring the dogs home on weekends, Friday through Monday.
If you need a service dog, Larson says all you have to do is fill out an application.
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