Sago Palm Re-entry Center welcomed the addition of four 8-week-old Golden Retriever puppies to its Prison Pups dog training program in April 2019.
Bred and raised by its community partner, New Horizons Service Dogs, the purebred Golden Retriever puppies are service dogs in training. Inmates in the Sago Palm dog program will socialize and train the puppies until they are approximately 7-8 months old.
We have found that inmates do an outstanding job with young puppies,” says Marti Hohmann, the program coordinator for New Horizons at Sago Palm. “They are careful and hardworking. They do extraordinary work introducing the pups to basic obedience. They also teach them to retrieve, turn the lights on and off, and open doors.”
Every New Horizons puppy litter is named according to themes. This litter is named after the Beatles, so the puppies are named Abbey, Judy, Pepper, and Maxwell.
“It is not unusual for the inmates to teach the puppies more than 60 commands,” added Hohmann.
New Horizons Service Dogs is a 501(c)3 based in Orange City, FL, that has placed more than 700 dogs throughout the state of Florida. They are partnered with 4 institutions in Southern Florida, including Sago Palm. Its dogs help people who have mobility issues, PTSD, or autism.
Department of Corrections dog training programs offer 4 levels of vocational certification. Certificates are based on hours accrued in the program, skills demonstrated, and coaching and teaching ability.