Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

February 18, 2010

Correctional facility trains puppies for disabled children

PLAINFIELD — Though some may not think it’s a great idea to send puppies to prison, the Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN) begs to differ.

ICAN, which matches disabled children with puppies, brought nine yellow and black Labrador puppies to the Plainfield Correctional Facility on Thursday.

The program allows the inmates to train the puppies, which will end up with the children when they are of age.

Sally Irvin, with ICAN, said the program allows for a lot of opportunities.

“Putting two groups together — dogs and the offenders, and then the people with disabilities — gives an opportunity for the offenders to learn a lot of job and life skills that they might not have had the opportunity to do before,” Irvin said. “It also gives them the opportunity to be responsible for something. We’re bring them 8-week-old little lives and they’re going to be more than parenting surrogates for the next four to eight weeks with these pups.

“For the pups, we have two guys assigned to each one. It gives them the opportunity to train skills early on and help house train them too. Really, it’s an opportunity for all of the different facets to come together through the common denominator of a dog, to make a difference.”

This litter of puppies was born on Christmas eve, so they all received Christmas-type names.

Wendy Knight, superintendent for the facility, said she doesn’t think twice when ICAN contacts her.

“It’s really awesome,” Knight said. “It really changes the guys. They are here not because they want to be. We tell them what to do and how they have to do it and they have to adjust. To have such a break in their monotony in what they have to do, is such a positive thing for them.”

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