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Offenders dogged in by new recruit at Gatton prison

JAIL HOUSE PUP: Southern Queensland Correctional Centre custodial correctional supervisor Juanita Zuna, director Mark Walters and Assistance Dogs Australia Queensland co-ordinator Cherie Bekker with the prison’s newest pup, Bundy.
JAIL HOUSE PUP: Southern Queensland Correctional Centre custodial correctional supervisor Juanita Zuna, director Mark Walters and Assistance Dogs Australia Queensland co-ordinator Cherie Bekker with the prison’s newest pup, Bundy. Amy Lyne

PUPS in Prison's newest recruit, Bundy, has arrived at the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre.

The 14-week-old black labrador will be trained to become a service dog for a person with a disability.

Assistance Dogs Australia trainer Cherie Bekker comes to the prison every week to help the offenders with the training of the dogs. Currently four are being trained.

Ms Bekker said while the offenders do a great job of training the dogs, they also need experiences outside the prison.

"We need people who are available from Thursday to Sunday," she said.

She said anyone, in any family situation, would be suitable to take the pups.

"There is only so much they can do in here and it is a really good way to be involved part-time," she said.

"It is awesome for everyone involved and in the end will support someone with a disability."

SQCC director Mark Walters said everyone at the prison was excited about having a new puppy.

"A new puppy filters through the whole centre," he said.

He said the pups were trained by mostly long-term offenders.

"Sometimes they don't have a lot of support of the outside because of the offence," he said.

"Training the pups re-establishes them with their emotions and they can see that they are giving back."

Custodial correctional supervisor Juanita Zuna said the program continued to bring positive results to the prison and community.

"We have eight puppy handlers, two per dog, one primary and one secondary," she said.

Being a puppy handler at the prison is an employed and paid position and four offenders have been part of the program since it began at SQCC in 2012.

Anyone interested in becoming a pup carer or with time to spare to walk the dogs can go to http://www.assistancedogs.org.au to fill out an application.

Topics:  assistance dogs australia southern queensland correctional centre


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