|Photo courtesy of the MO|
Department of Corrections
According to George Lombardi, Director of the MO Dept of Corrections, the Puppies for Parole continues to evolve and expand beyond his initial expectations and vision. There are already nine (9) Missouri correctional institutions with the program in place with another five (5) ready for implementation. The MO Dept of Mental Health will be using the program to adopt dogs for use in some of their facilities to aid the adjustument of the mentally iss and developmentally disabled. The Veterans Administration has voiced interest in doing the same for combat vets with PTSD. Plus, a psychiatrist from a hospital in St Louis may utilitze the Puppies for Parole program dogs for use with children with autism.
Puppies for Parole is a unique program made possible through MO Dept of Corrections partnerships with animal shelters and animal advocate groups throughout Missouri. Selected offenders have the opportunity to become trainers to rescue dogs in the program. Offenders work with the dogs teaching them basic obedience skills and properly socializing the animals, making them more adoptable. Once the dogs have successfully completed the program they are sent back to their original shelter to be placed up for adoption. Last year in Missouri, more than 46,000 homeless canines were euthanized. Puppies for Parole hopes to reduce that number by producing loving, obedient, adoptable dogs.
The MO Dept of Corrections maintains that the benefits of this program are three-fold. Puppies for Parole gives offenders the skills necessary to support successful rehabilitation, reentry, ultimately improving public safety. At the same time, this is an opportunity for the offenders to re-pay Missouri communities and repair some of the debts caused by their crimes. MO DOC has seen this program have a profound effect on the inmates and staff, increasing the safety and security of the correctional facility, as well.
According to MO Dept of Corrections Director, George Lombardi, "The dogs have a remarkable impact on MDOC offenders, improving offender behavior and giving offenders incentive to maintain excellent conduct records. Offenders not directly involved in the program are showing responsibility and selflessness by donating to support our efforts. Staff morale is also enhanced by the presence of the dogs."
MO Puppies for Parole uses no general revenue funds and operates solely on donations.