Sign In

Program For Puppies

June 26, 2020

“Good People” profiles everyday individuals who are bettering the lives of those in need and improving their communities.

This organization is changing how prison inmates are serving time.

“Puppies Behind Bars” allows incarcerated men and women to train service dogs for the purpose of giving them to veterans and other heroes who need help.

Gloria Gilbert Stoga, the founder and president of “Puppies Behind Bars,” said she was first inspired to create the organization after reading about a veterinarian in Florida who recruited prison inmates to train guide dogs for the blind.

“I just thought it was an absolutely brilliant idea,” Gilbert Stoga told In The Know. “I just followed my passion to create a program where prison inmates train dogs that will go out and work in the community.”

Veterans who have been fortunate enough to receive dogs who have graduated the program have described the animals as nothing short of life-changing.

“When I talked to the VA about getting a service dog, I saw that ‘Puppies Behind Bars’ does work for trauma, for PTSD dogs,” said Col. Jeanna Meyer, a veteran and service dog recipient. “It’s pretty unbelievable, you kind of actually start to get the hope that life is going to be so much better now.”

Port Authority Police officer Brian Andrews, another service dog recipient, recalled being a highly active person until 2015 when he sustained an injury on the job that left him in a dark place.

“I basically crawled into a fetal position and spent a year and a half like that,” officer Andrews said. “This ‘Puppies Behind Bars’ program has brought me back to more pre-injury (status).”

As miraculous as “Puppies Behind Bars” has been for dog recipients, inmates have also touted the benefits of participating in the program, which Gilbert Stoga describes as rigorous.

“The training process for an inmate — it’s really hard,” the founder said. “There’s tests, there’s quizzes, there’s hands-on assignment. If you’ve raised a dog to completion, you feel pretty damn good about yourself.”

According to the organization’s website, puppies enter a prison at the age of 8 weeks and live with their inmate puppy-raisers for approximately 24 months.

“As the puppies mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs, their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it,” the site reads. “The dogs bring hope and pride to their raisers, and independence and security to those they serve.”

All the hard work clearly pays off on both ends.

“It’s definitely something that’s positive and has lifted me up and helped me in ways I never thought possible,” said inmate and puppy raiser Rebecca Polomaine. “It’s like, ‘Here. Thank you.’ I put my love, my blood, sweat and tears into these dogs, and this is for you.”

“When everybody graduates, they go home with the dogs, were all rooting for them, and we’re hoping for optimal success,” Gilbert Stoga added. “The dogs have saved lives.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more