Prison PUP Program – a Win-Win Situation

Elliott at the Boston Public Market

Laura Galvani has been involved with the NEADS Prison PUP Program for 15 years. One of her responsibilities is to work closely with NEADS trainers and staff to make sure the program runs smoothly. Laura recently shared her views about the program based on her personal experiences*.

I was introduced to NEADs in the spring of 2004 when MCI Framingham became the first medium security correctional facility to train Service Dogs. Our first 2 dogs arrived that September, and we are going strong 15 years later. Based on my personal experience working with these dogs and the inmates assigned to them, I believe the partnership with NEADs and the Massachusetts DOC is truly a win/win situation. That phrase can be overused, but not in this case.

The inmates who meet our requirements for participation are able to give back to the community, a big step in rehabilitation for them. Women have reported caring for someone or something other than themselves for the first time in their lives. They take pride in their hard work and consider training these dogs their highest priority. They can be seen with the dogs throughout the institution; in classes, at religious services, eating meals or out in the yard.

The NEADs clients receive these highly trained service dogs in half the time it would take a home trained dog to be ready for placement because of the amount of time the inmate handlers are able to devote to training. Most clients return to the prison for a Meet and Greet with the NEADs inmate handlers – events are truly emotional on all sides. The clients express their gratitude for their Service Dogs and share details on how their lives have changed and will change for the better with a Service Dog. They can see the love these inmate handlers have for their dogs. There is a true appreciation for these women to let their dogs go on to help others after all their time, dedication, and love.

One woman summed up how the program affected her well: “By truly helping others, we heal ourselves.”

*This comment reflects the officer’s views based on personal experience and does not represent the Department of Corrections’ promotion, endorsement, or sponsorship of the NEADS program for fundraising purposes.