(WTNH) — Behind the walls at the Enfield Correctional Institution there’s not only inmates, but puppies. They are brought into the cells and live with inmate handlers to be trained as service dogs for veterans.
Commissioner Scott Semple of the Department of Correction says it has been a win-win for veterans and inmates alike.
“It’s fantastic! It has had a positive impact on the overall environment of the population and it gives them something to strive for,” said Semple.
The puppies are trained for about a year behind bars, but are trained by families on the weekend. The dogs help disabled veterans around the home and can retrieve things from the refrigerator and turn on and off lights. Right now, veterans have a 2-year wait for a service dog, but the inmates are able to cut that time in half with the work they do behind bars.
Former heavyweight champion boxer Leon Spinks and his wife Brenda received their service dog from Enfield.
“We have a special device that he can talk on. So we give the command to talk to hold and to give so he can open the door is Leon goes through or if we have a lot to carry. He’s good company, too. Not only does he help you, but as a friend. He’s definitely good company, he is a lifesaver. What can I say he’s my life and I am his,” said Spinks.
Vet dogs has about 84 puppies across the country and facilities like this.