In the September issue of Dog Fancy magazine there are two articles that intrigued me. They are both about dogs helping people and it is surprising who the trainers are in one of the articles.
The first commentary, titled "Training for a New Life" by Kyra Kirkwood, is about a dog training program conducted at a minimum security prison in Virginia. Five shelter dogs scheduled to be destroyed are rescued every six weeks and brought to the prison. The warden screens the inmates and selects five inmates to care for the animals 24/7. These inmates are permitted to attend training classes with two professional trainers from outside the prison, but they are expected to practice each day so that the animals will pass the Canine Good Citizen test at the end of the six weeks and be placed in the community.
This article makes a number of points to consider before a trainer should even think of starting such a venture. I think the third point should be considered first. That is: "Create a game plan. Brainstorm everything, asking and answering potential questions such as 'Who will take the dogs to the vet at 2 a.m.?' and 'What kind of program do I envision?'" There are eight additional points such as contacting the local shelter, making friends with the warden and gathering a solid volunteer base before starting.