Dog training program in desperate need of foster families

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Dog gets affection from his handler for sitting calmly.
Dog gets affection from his handler for sitting calmly.

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WXOW) – A new batch of puppies has reported for training in Black River Falls. The Jackson Correctional Institution welcomed a new litter to their service dog training program.

They say dog is man’s best friend, but for Justin dogs hold a special spot in his heart thanks to his late mother.

“She was limited mobility,” Justin said. “She had a leg amputated, one of her arms amputated. She had real bad diabetes. She got the dog and her spirits immediately rose and the dog was able to help her out.”

Now Justin hopes the dog he’s training can make that same impact to someone else. Warden Lizzie Tegels says

Dog waits for command from handler.
Dog waits for command from handler.

she’s been shocked by the impact of the service dog training program.

“They really have built some of this into their release planning,” Tegels said. “We have one individual who just moved off to minimum security and hopes to train dogs as part of a career.”

The program is ran in partnership with Can Do Canine of Wisconsin. One of the inmates named Anthony started with the first liter of the program. On Monday, he met his third dog. He says watching the dogs graduate is a rewarding experience.

“Sending that dog on to its final stages and it’s a great feeling to know you worked that hard for that long and now it all paid off,” Anthony said.

Dog does the command "park" by sitting under the seat of his handler.
Dog does the command “park” by sitting under the seat of his handler.

However, the program needs the communities help. The dogs leave with foster families on the weekend to practice their training. Right now, they have 10 families, but they need many more.

“Without the ability to operate in the community and in the public, we don’t have an assistance dog.”

Anthony hopes families step up so this program won’t go away as it’s changed him.

“Better my relationships with my family, held my son as much as I can. I’m not just doing time anymore,” Anthony explained. “Everyday I’m trying to better myself.”

Two dogs in the program play with one another.
Two dogs in the program play with one another.

For Justin, he hopes to just make an impact.

“I know what it did for my mom. I know what it did for her spirits. So I know what it will do for somebody else’s,” Justin added.

Officials say being a foster family doesn’t mean you have to take the dogs every week. It is up to you how often you’d like to take the dogs. Also it’s completely free to you. The program will provide you with food, a crate and whatever else you may need to care for the dogs when staying.

You can learn more about the program or sign up by visiting Can-do-canines.org, by calling Can Do Canines at 763-331-3000 or by contacting the Jackson Correctional Insitution at (715) 284-4550

Anthony, an inmate at the Jackson Correctional Institution, does training with his new partner.
Jeremy Culver

Jeremy Culver

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