FOUR-LEGGED GRADUATES: The first round of Smart Pups have graduated from Borallon Training and Correctional Centre.
FOUR-LEGGED GRADUATES: The first round of Smart Pups have graduated from Borallon Training and Correctional Centre. Marcus Seeger 2012

Prisoners teach dogs the basics

FROM behind the bars of Borallon Training and Correctional Centre, prisoners are training puppies to help others have a better life.

The initiative is a partnership between the correctional facility and assistant dog organisation Smart Pups, which provides assistance dogs to children with special needs.

Last Monday the first four dogs graduated from the training program.

Canines Honey, Hunter, Mac and Murphy are one step closer to providing help to children with a range of different assistant needs, from autism to diabetes.

Smart Pups senior dog trainer Dayle Telford said the program was a win-win for the correctional centre and Smart Pups.

"We have around 60 clients on our waiting list,” Ms Telford said.

"Having this program can help reduce the time frame for those children desperately needing their special friend.”

The dogs were trained to provide comfort, assistance and to monitor children aged three to 13 who had special needs.

The program is the first step of training for the assistance dogs.

Once the initial training is complete the dogs are placed with foster carers and tested to see which disability they would be best suited to assisting.

Minister for Corrective Services Mark Ryan said the program was beneficial to prisoners by improving their chances of employment and reintegrating into the community once released.

"Programs such as the Smart Pups program not only help prisoners learn new skills but it also helps with their transition into thecommunity,” Mr Ryan said.

At present, prisoners at Borallon Training and Correctional Centre are training another four assistance dogs through the Smart Pups program and are due to graduate in May.


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