HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WJZ)—A first-of-its-kind program in Maryland is using incarcerated war veterans to train service dogs for wounded and disabled veterans.
Mary Bubala reports it’s a remarkable program that may just change lives in unexpected ways.
At the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, dog crates now rest in an inmate’s cell.
It’s part of a new program that has incarcerated veterans training service dogs for wounded and disabled U.S. veterans
Inmates will care for the puppies, making sure they are fed and groomed and ready for training.
Terry Dorsey is an U.S. Army vet and inmate who is thankful to be part of the new program.
“Being incarcerated, people forget about us or think we have no worth. But this is an opportunity for us that are involved in the program that we can do something positive, and it’s for a worthy cause,” Dorsey said.
Correctional officials say the program gives inmates a second chance.
“This is a project when they are done they are going to get rewarded deeply, and they will have memories forever of the animals they have raised,” said Wayne Webb, MCI warden.
At a special ceremony to introduce the program, inmates heard from veteran Dan Lasko. He served in Afghanistan, lost part of his leg, had a traumatic brain injury and now is healing with a service dog Wally.
“There are certain things a dog, a service dog, can do for a disabled veteran more than medication or any other kind of therapy,” Lasko said.
It’s proven pet therapy that’s working in more ways than one.
“If we do a good job than its going to reflect on them and let society know we have worth and we can do something worthwhile,” Dorsey said.
The dogs come to the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown through an organization called America’s Vet Dogs. It’s a nonprofit based in New York.
Twelve dogs will be trained and cared for at one time at the prison in Maryland.