Most notorious for being home to convicted illegal enemy combatant, Jose’ Padilla, Charleston’s Navy brig is hoping that old reputation will be replaced by a new one.
Carolina Canines for Service, a civilian group has teamed up with Canines for Veterans, a non-governmental military group. They will blend their services for a common cause at the Navy brig.
While other similar programs have inmates training dogs for soldiers this program is unique because the inmates doing the training are also military. These inmates will know what it’s like to be a soldier, many of them having served in combat zones themselves.
Inmates chosen to train dogs for this program are juried on their personality, the type of crime they are incarcerated for and the length of time they’re serving. They will train dogs to assist warriors who have been wounded in combat.
All dogs are “second-chance” canines rescued from shelters around the region.
There is nothing breed-specific about these dogs but their personality plays a role. Dogs that have dog aggression issues or that are not good around children or toddlers will be removed from the program, for safety’s sake.
In addition to the dogs learning simple tasks such as retrieving remotes, shoes or telephones, the dogs will also learn how to open refrigerators and doors. They will learn how to load a washing machine or unload a dryer, one piece of clothing at a time.
More importantly, the service dog will literally give their warrior a shoulder to rely on if they should fall, need balance assistance or even a safe route out of a crowded room.
The program has benefits way beyond the assistance the dog provides for the soldiers. The incarcerated servicemen will learn patience, unconditional love and a skill they can put to use when they transition back into society; all with a dog that has been rescued from an uncertain future.
In keeping with the military’s recent consolidation and realignment of bases, this program, previously located at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was relocated to the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston.
Camp Lejeune inmates working with this program will be relocated to Charleston in the coming weeks.
Officials anticipate that up to 20 service dogs will eventually live and train with the inmates. Currently there are seven in the initial program.
Training these service dogs can take up to 2,000 hours per dog with a training value estimated at approximately $40,000. The training is donated to the program by Carolina Canines. There is no charge to the injured veteran.
Examiner’s Note: Carolina Canines operates solely on the generosity of private donations. For more information on this organization, please watch the heartwarming video on their site: www.carolinacanines.org.
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