General Crime

California Female Prison Inmates Train Dogs for Children with Autism

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Meet Dusty, Cody, and Cooper! All were shelter dogs rescued by Pathways to Hope and assigned to an inmate at California Institution for Women to be trained as an Autism Service Dog.

Conceived out of a dream from a tenacious woman named Sister Pauline Quin, in September of 2002, the California Institution for Women became the first prison within the state of California to have a Service Dog Training Program. Once Sister Pauline contacted CST’s founder Carol Roquemore, the wheels started turning and together with John Dovey – the Warden at CIW, the program was implemented.

Since then other successful programs have been put in place based on this model so that inmate trainers in California are now playing a vital role in the training of service dogs for the disabled community.

The dogs are assigned to an inmate trainer at 18 months of age, after being raised in a puppy raiser home where they are well socialized and taught obedience skills. They remain at the prison for 4-6 months. CST staff provides the inmates 2 hour training classes each Tuesday evening and 3 Saturdays per month, working with the inmates and training them to become dog trainers, groomers, and technicians.

These dedicated trainers gain pride and worth from their daily work with the dogs and many go on to a professional, self-­?sustaining career in the industry once released. To date, none have returned back to confinement from CST’s program!

1 YB and waiver

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