AROUND NJ

Service dogs trained by inmates find forever homes with veterans

BY Brittany Pavlichko, Web Production Assistant |

Inmates present the service dogs they trained to veterans. Courtesy of Camden County

Three veterans diagnosed with PTSD received service dogs trained by Camden County Corrections inmates.

The dogs are trained by inmates for about 8 months with the help of Above and Beyond Dog Training, and then matched with veterans through the Veteran Affairs Office. The groundbreaking program is sponsored by the Freeholder Board.

“We know service dogs can improve the quality of life for veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression,” said state Sen. Jim Beach.

In addition to helping veterans, the program also allows inmates to give back to their communities in a meaningful way, and learn valuable skills as they prepare to re-enter society.

“The opportunity to have inmates participating and learning a new skill set that will ultimately benefit veterans is a home run for public policy, and it is critical that we continue to find more innovative ways to support both communities,” said Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young.

Director of the Camden County Department of Corrections David Owens views this initiative as a first step to opening many new doors for inmates.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, we hope that this program will be that step to change training and continue an evolution in corrections for New Jersey,” Owens said.