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Cambridge Springs Begins New Dog Program

April 13, 2023 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

A black dog named Morty standing with incarcerated handlers

SCI Cambridge Spring implemented a new canine training program this year called Paws in Prison. The facility is working alongside Canine Partners, Inc., a local non-profit located in Union City. Canine Partners, Inc., provides rescued canines to the facility and works alongside approved handlers at the facility to provide specialized obedience training to the dogs.

The dogs are housed and trained at the facility for between six and eight weeks and are then eligible to be tested to become American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizens, with the intent to be adopted into a forever home. The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program, established in 1989, is an American Kennel Club program to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage the training of well-mannered dogs. A dog and handler team must take a short behavioral evaluation; dogs who pass the evaluation earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate.

The evaluation consists of 10 objectives, and all items must be completed for the dog to earn their certificate. Test items include:

  • Accepting a friendly stranger.
  • Sitting politely for petting.
  • Allowing basic grooming procedures.
  • Walking on a loose lead.
  • Walking through a crowd.
  • Sitting and lying down on command and staying in place.
  • Coming when called.
  • Reacting appropriately to walking by a dog and person.
  • Reacting appropriately to distractions.
  • Calmly enduring supervised separation from the owner.

Cambridge Springs currently has two dogs in the Paws in Prison program, Morty and Loki, each with two assigned inmate handlers.

Morty (above) is a two-year-old Labradoodle. He was surrendered to the shelter because he was too high energy for his previous owner. He came to the program with little to no training or socialization, and he has learned the commands sit, stand and “look at me.” He is also getting good at loose-leash walking. Morty likes to express himself through his bark. The trainers don’t want his bark to be silenced but are working with him on learning when to and when not to use his voice.

Loki (below) is an eight-month-old black Lab puppy that was rescued, along with his littermates, from a kill-shelter out of Alabama. He is friendly and full of energy, but also very timid and easily scared. This may come from the fact that he was raised his whole life with just his littermates, whom he is more familiar with than humans or other dogs. Loki can be very apprehensive when greeting unfamiliar humans or other dogs and this is a goal he is currently working to improve upon.  He knows the command “sit” pretty well but is slow to do it, especially when there are a lot of distractions. Like most puppies, he is very easily distracted! With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement he will continue to adapt to his new environment and learn skills to be a great pet.

A black dog named Loki

SCI Cambridge Springs looks forward to this new partnership that will be a benefit to the canines, inmates and the non-profit group.

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