Training program helps dogs, inmates

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A new program for service dogs is giving 10 men a chance to be trainers and give back to their community.

The program is called Relying on Furry Friends, or R.U.F.F. It’s offered at SCI Houtzdale. A group of inmates is training four Labrador Retriever puppies to be service dogs. They’ll help people with disabilities, including veterans and the elderly.

SCI Houtzdale is partnered with United Disabilities Services (UDS) in Lancaster, Pa. to train the dogs. 

The program began in December. The dogs live with the inmates at the jail and will stay with their trainers until they’re 16-18 months old.

The inmates are chosen based on an excellent work and behavioral history.

“It’s giving me something to look forward to every day while I’m in here,” one inmate said. 

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