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Compassion with Fashion 2019 Highlights

Tags: Camp Hill
June 11, 2019 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

PA Coat of Arms

The CPAA's Hounds of Prison Education (HOPE) hosted the Compassion with Fashion event at Sheraton Harrisburg on May 5. Speeches were given by Travis Reibold and Stephen Shih, who were both former dog handlers for the HOPE organization at SCI Camp Hill. Superintendent Laurel Harry and Superintendent's Assistant Deb Alvord attended the event in support of the HOPE program.

The HOPE program, which was one of the first dog programs in the PA DOC, started to save the lives of dogs in March 2005. There have been more than 300 dogs that have been saved through the program, which partners animal shelters, rescues, correctional institutions and communities. Currently, HOPE works with SCI Camp Hill to pair inmates that were thoroughly screened with dogs. The dogs get paired with inmates due to their struggle with getting adopted by the general public. Over the course of several weeks, the inmates work with a professional trainer, prison staff and the HOPE team to assist the dogs with obedience training, socialization, behavior modification and round-the-clock attention.

At the event, Reibold said, "Without that, I don't know what 15 years would've been like, because in there you don't have responsibility… So, as I move forward, I'm doing well, I'm going to continue to do well. I've heard the HOPE program has had a lot of success moving forward, so that is what's it's done for me. I guess you can say it's giving me 'hope.'"

Shih, the other speaker at the fashion show, had nothing but praise for HOPE.

"This program brought me everything," he said. "It brought me salvation. It gave me back my humanity. All the things that prison takes away from a man, these dogs give back. These dogs taught me how to let go of my past, they taught me how to forgive; these dogs taught me how to love," he said.

At the end of the program, both the dogs and inmates are ready and looking forward to a new life on the outside.

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