Puppies paw into prison

A CUTE and cuddly addition has arrived at the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre.

Four puppies are serving time in Southern Queensland Correctional Centre, as part of the Pups in Prison Program.

The program at the centre, which has been operational for just over a month, gives inmates skills to use in their rehabilitation and give back to the community, by training fully fledged assistance dogs.

The partnership program has been developed between Assistance Dogs Australia, Queensland Corrective Services and Southern Queensland Correctional Centre.

The newest recruits for Assistance Dogs Australia are sniffing out volunteer puppy sitters to provide them with temporary but loving homes on and off during their 14 months of training.

While they look cute and cuddly as pups, in two years time they will change the life of someone with a physical disability, opening the door to a new independence for a future owner.

Local Assistance Dogs Australia trainer Cherie Baker said the puppy sitters will teach the puppies to undergo tasks that are difficult or impossible for people with disabilities.

"Sitters are especially important when socialising puppies. They can also take the pups to the shops, cafes, on public transport and even to the cinema as it's all these experiences that will help them become an assistance dog," she said.

Cherie is helping the pups in their quest to find local sitters and will be there every step of the way during training, providing instruction and support to the volunteers.

"I think the most rewarding part of being a puppy sitter would be knowing that you are changing people's lives by helping Assistance Dogs get these amazing pups off on the right paw," she said.

"To see the impact these dogs make on their recipients is priceless."

Assistance Dogs Australia is a charity that trains labradors and golden retrievers, giving freedom and independence to people with physical disabilities.

The dogs learn to pick up dropped items, press the button at traffic lights, open and close doors, and even get clothes out of a washing machine.

It takes two years and more than $26,000 to train each dog but they are placed with people in need free of charge.

For further information about how you can help please phone Assistance Dogs Australia on 1800 688 364 or view our website at assistancedogs.org.au.


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