Three more of America’s VetDogs complete training at ECI

Inmate Jeremy Lepone with Jenny as she shows how she can pick up a cell phone - really a calculator since inmates are prohibited from having cell phones. (DPSCS photo)

Inmate Jeremy Lepone with Jenny as she shows how she can pick up a cell phone – really a calculator since inmates are prohibited from having cell phones. (DPSCS photo)

WESTOVER — Three puppies trained in basic skills by inmates at the Eastern Correctional Institution graduated for more specialized training through America’s VetDogs program.

 

Li’l Jimmy, Jennie and Barrie are on track to be assigned to a veteran who may be suffering from a physical and/or mental challenge that can be tempered through their companionship. They’ve learned to mind their inmate handler and follow basic instructions such as closing doors, retrieving household items or assisting in calming a person down during a time of stress.

 

The inmates, together with weekend “puppy raisers” who take the dogs out for real-world socialization, more quickly bring them along so they can help America’s VetDogs program help others. This program was introduced to ECI in 2012 and in the past incarcerated veterans have been among those selected to help train the puppies which are primarily Labrador and golden retrievers.

Inmate Edgar Toleda with puppy graduate Li’l Jimmy. (DPSCS Photo)

Inmate Edgar Toleda with puppy graduate Li’l Jimmy. (DPSCS Photo)

The program is one of the most valued in the Maryland prison system because it teaches inmates responsibility and compassion for the animals.

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