The Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe is home to more than 2,200 inmates, but even behind bars some have found a new purpose — raising and training puppies to become service dogs for the blind through a program called “LeaderDog”.
“They believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself,” says Brandon Cortez Nash, a level one inmate who is taking part in the program.
There are 10 level one inmates caring for these dogs — feeding them, grooming them, training them and most importantly playing with them! Kyle Cronin says, “It gives me something to look forward to when I get up.”
Along the way these inmates are teaching these pups manners and commands, but in return these inmates are walking away with much more.
“It shows them compassion, confidence. It gives them a feeling of unconditional love that they may not have on the outside,” says Jillian Salomon, the Assistant Prison Puppy Coordinator at the Chippewa Correctional Facility.
This opportunity is sure to stick with them long after they’ve served their sentence. “At least I can take this home with me and say that I did do something good while I was here,” says Kyle Cronin.
At the end of the day, once their training is over and they say their final goodbye’s they are left with the gift of giving. Brandon Cortez Nash says, “I know that I can make a difference not just for myself but for someone else.”