Behind the Scenes: Keeping the Dogs Fed
by Kathy Foreman, NEADS Director of Training
Twice a month, NEADS staff delivers dog food for our pups in prison, typically bringing a 2-week supply at a time. We have dogs in seven prisons, and they each receive anywhere from 5 bags to 15, depending on the program. That’s a lot of dog food – approximately 80 bags per month. Our trainers load bags of food into NEADS vehicles at our Princeton, MA campus. At the other end, our prison liaisons and other prison staff are there to help us unload the food, which gets x-rayed before being stored until needed.
Keeping the prisons supplied with food is no different now that the dogs are being cared for 7 days a week by their inmate handlers versus the typical Monday through Friday. What has changed is that we’ve upped the delivery to a 3-week supply just to be sure the dogs have plenty of what they’re used to eating. Many thanks to our continuing partnership with Blue Buffalo, who provides food for all our dogs in training. Our pups love their food, and we appreciate the partnership.
Along with good nutrition, weight control is one of the keys to the longevity and good health of NEADS dogs. Dogs in prison are weighed each week, and the weights are included in the weekly update that the trainers receive from the inmates. Back at NEADS, these weights are monitored by our veterinary technician staff to insure each dog is receiving the proper amount of food to stay healthy and trim. The weight of each dog and body condition is also reviewed by the veterinarians who volunteer at the monthly prison health clinics. While we’ve had to suspend the monthly health clinics for the present, our veterinary technician staff continues to collect weight information and monitor it closely.
One of our primary goals during this time is to make sure that our dogs continue to be safe, healthy, and well cared for. And thanks in part to our inmate handlers and prison liaisons for taking care of the dogs not just Monday through Friday, but on weekends, too, we’re confident we can make that happen.
This is part of our COVID-19 coverage. See related updates here.