Camden County works with local animal rescue to have inmates train rescue dogs

Inmates will train and care for companion dogs to be adopted by veterans, who will give them a forever home.

The Camden County Freeholder Board has announced a new program that will utilize inmates to train rescue dogs to be matched with military veterans suffering from service-related conditions.

With the pilot program, the board has instructed the corrections department, working with One Love Animal Rescue of Mt. Laurel, to train and care for companion dogs to be adopted by veterans, identified by the Office of Veteran Affairs, who will give them a forever home.

According to officials with Camden County, this policy is the first of its kind in the state.

“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, who serves as liaison to the Department of Corrections. “This progressive idea will also assist us in finding forever homes for animals from our shelter population. The advantages gained by matching all of these disparate parts into a monolithic structure will be an improvement to the quality of life for our overall community.”

According to Camden County, animal training programs are operating in prisons throughout the country. In Washington State, all prisons operate some kind of animal training or adoption program, according to the Washington State Department of Corrections. Four prisons in Washington have partnered with organizations that provide service animals to people with disabilities.

“We know companion 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 said. “Creating a program that allows inmates to train these dogs for veterans will give them a chance to give back to the community in a meaningful way, but also to learn valuable skills as they prepare to re-enter society. At the same time, this kind of program will help to increase the availability of dogs for veterans in our state who are seeking them as a means of coping with combat-related disorders.”