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updated 2:45 PM UTC, Jul 26, 2017

Assistance Dogs to Arrive at Jackson Correctional Institution

  • Written by Mary Gerdes
  • Published in News

Can Do Canines, a non-profit organization that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities and provides them free of charge to those who need them, is starting its sixth prison training program at the Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI) in Black River Falls, Wis.

Ten puppies from the “P litter” will enter the prison and begin their training on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 12:30 p.m.

Dyan Larson, Can Do Canines Prison Program Instructor, will arrive with the litter of ten puppies at the Jackson Correctional Institution on Tuesday, May 23 at 12:30 p.m. A prison official will also be available
for an interview and members of the press will be allowed in the prison administration building. Dyan can be reached at 715-556-0358.

If you are a member of the press and are interested in entering the administrative building please contact Kris Smetana (at least 24 hours in advance) at 715.284.7301 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your full legal name, date of birth as well as an equipment list including cell phones.

For these puppies to succeed, not only are they being trained in the prison, but they also need to be in residential homes as well. Volunteers are needed in the Black River Falls area to be "Weekend Puppy Raisers. "They will take their assigned puppy each weekend into their home and work on good house manners, take the puppy out in public and socialize them to things not experienced in prison (household noises, stores, sporting events, etc). Our local trainer, Dyan, will work with them on classes monthly to help these puppies become the best assistance dogs they can be! Please include this need for volunteers in your story! Potential volunteers can get more information on our website or call volunteer coordinator Laurie Carlson at 763-331-3000 x113.

Can Do Canines currently partners with three Minnesota prisons and now two Wisconsin prisons to help raise and train assistance dogs. “Being able to partner with another prison facility to raise our dogs is huge for us,” says Executive Director, Alan Peters. “We currently have a waiting list of more than 170 people who are waiting to receive an assistance dog. The more people we have to help raise and train these dogs … the better.”

Elizabeth Tagels, Warden for Jackson Correctional Institution says, “I have always believed the bond between humans and dogs was profound. Beyond providing Can Do Canines with assistance dogs for those in need, having a canine training program in the correctional environment will afford the inmate handler teams an amazing experience. They will learn responsibility, empathy and commitment from a new perspective; they will experience an unconditional bond with the dog and at the end of training when the dog leaves, they will understand the importance of doing something for the greater good and giving back to the community. Actually, I’m not sure yet who will learn more, the dogs or the handlers. JCI is honored to collaborate and partner with Can Do Canines.”

For more than 25 years, Can Do Canines has trained and provided five types of assistance dogs including: Hearing, Mobility, Seizure, Diabetes and Autism Assist dogs. As part of its training program, Can Do Canines partners with facilities like the Jackson Correctional Institution to help raise puppies, provide obedience work and begin to imbue assistance dog skills. Puppies enter the prison between 12-16 weeks of age and live with carefully selected inmates who provide daily training as they grow up. The dog is returned to Can Do Canines after 18 months for final training and then placed with a client.

About Can Do Canines:
Can Do Canines (New Hope, Minn.) is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities by creating mutually beneficial partnerships with specially trained dogs. Since 1989, Can Do Canines has provided more than 570 assistance dogs to people with disabilities; all free of charge. Our fully trained dogs, often adopted from local animal shelters, are provided to our clients who live with disabilities that involve mobility challenges, hearing loss or deafness, seizure disorders, diabetes complicated by hypoglycemia unawareness or children with autism.

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