In 2006, Puppies Behind Bars began raising service dogs for the disabled as it enabled us to affect a diverse group of individuals with varying needs and of different ages. In addition to basic obedience, manners, and socialization, inmate puppy raisers are responsible for teaching the pups almost eighty commands.|
Once the pups reach eighteen months of age, they are tested to determine their suitability for formal training by PBB. When a puppy is matched with a disabled individual, final training continues specific to the client’s needs. Currently, over forty service dogs are being raised in three of our six prisons.
Types of Service Dogs and How to Apply for One
Service Dogs for Veterans Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan
Dog Tags: Service Dogs for Those Who’ve Served Us was established by Puppies Behind Bars to provide service dogs to veterans returning home from Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan (OEF) who have suffered a physical injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or exhibit Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In February 2008, our first Dog Tags pup, Pax, was paired with Sergeant Bill Campbell, an Iraq War veteran who suffers from PTSD, a life-altering condition that is characterized by panic attacks, severe depression, memory loss, nightmares and fear of public places. Pax has been trained to remind Bill to take his daily medications and alert him of approaching strangers, always “watching his back.” When Pax lies at Bill’s side, he will sit up if someone approaches, thus lessening Bill’s fear of being in public spaces such as a grocery store or a movie theater. Additionally, Pax responds to the command, “Block,” which Bill uses when he wants Pax to stand in between him and an approaching individual.
In November 2008, Bill, his wife and Pax traveled from their home in Washington State to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility where Pax was raised and trained, in order to meet and thank the women for their hard work and dedication in training service dogs for veterans. Bill and the puppy raisers shared dozens of stories about Pax, ranging from his puppyhood in prison to his current life as a full-fledged service dog to Bill. The common bond connecting everyone centered around Pax’s love and devotion to people, his ability to help heal emotional wounds and how his presence alone encourages those around him to rise above their circumstances and live life to its fullest.
Puppies Behind Bars provides service dogs to veterans completely free of charge. In addition to raising and training the puppies from the age of eight weeks until they are paired with the veterans at approximately two years of age, we cover 100% of the transportation and boarding costs for the veterans and a family member to attend our two-week team training at which they learn how to work with their canine companions and are certified as service dog teams. PBB also serves as a resource for the veterans in the years that follow, providing support, advice and feedback.
To date, we have trained and paired forty service dogs for wounded warriors. To learn more about Dog Tags, download the brochure. For information on how to APPLY for a Dog Tags service dog,
download the application.
To apply for a service dog, please contact Puppies Behind Bars at 212.680.9562 and we will refer you to the appropriate service dog school with whom we have a partnership.