Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex (EKCC) has two programs at the prison.
The A.L.P.H.A. (A Life Prisoners Help Alter) dog program is a collaborative effort between the Morgan County Animal Shelter and EKCC. The intent of the program is to provide training and socialization to shelter dogs who would otherwise be unadoptable. The program accepts dogs that have behavioral problems such as non-stop barking, biting, jumping, aggression and fear-based issues.
Morgan County Animal Shelter began working with Pals4Pets in Kendall, New York after 2012, when a devastating tornado struck West Liberty, KY and displaced many of the dogs in the area. In 2016, Pals4Pets began fostering select dogs who graduated from the A.L.P.H.A. dog program to be companion dogs for veterans, seniors, and special-needs individuals, in addition to providing family adoptions.
Graduates of the program are also eligible for local adoption and can be seen here.
The second program at EKCC is the 4 Paws Puppy Raiser Program, which started in May 2018. This program is a joint effort between EKCC and 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit based in Xenia, Ohio, that provides service dogs to children and veterans that are trained especially for their needs. The 4 Paws program trains dogs to serve clients with a range of needs and disabilities, including autism, epilepsy, diabetes, PTSD, mobility issues, hearing loss, and combat-related amputations and injuries. The program breeds their own dogs and specifically trains these breeds: Papillons, German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Golden and Labradoodles, and Poodles.
The EKCC program has 32 inmates who live in a designated dormitory wing and they focus on general care and basic training for puppies up until the age of 23 weeks. The inmates begin working with them from the day they arrive. The 4 Paws staff visit the institutions on a bi-weekly schedule to provide vaccinations, deliver supplies and conduct further training. The goal is that all of the puppies be healthy and well socialized, while having basic mastery of housebreaking, obedience, crate training and using a leash. Once they leave the program, they go on to the homes of "puppy raisers' - individuals with the organization who continue raising and training the puppies through the first year of their lives.
The 4 Paws staff have been extremely impressed with the puppies EKCC has raised and how well they are trained. The consensus from 4 Paws Staff and veteran 4 Paws puppy raisers is that the EKCC puppies are generally a month ahead of schedule in their training. The EKCC puppies are on a waiting list due to the high demand for a well-trained, well-socialized puppy. Since the program began, EKCC inmates have raised 14 litters, for a total of 104 puppies, while providing care for 11 others.
This is a real source of pride for the inmates to know that they are making a difference and giving something back to the community that is positive and useful to people in need. They learn to work together as a team, respect each other, and work for the good of the puppies. Inmates in this program are expected and encouraged to continue their education and continue in other programs as well.
The dogs bred and raised for 4 Paws are adoptable under limited circumstances when dogs do not make it through their training. 4 Paws is always looking for foster homes and puppy raiser homes for their dogs. To learn more, please visit the 4 Paws for Ability website.