New Life K9s partners with three state prisons, California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, and Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, where inmates teach future service dogs. Each dog has 2 inmate handlers who are able to offer more time and consistency in teaching the dogs than would otherwise be possible. On weekends, the dogs go home with volunteer puppy raisers for community socialization.
Inmate handlers and puppy raisers significantly reduce costs, which allows New Life K9s to place more dogs and save more lives. The positive impact on the inmates, the prison staff, and the overall prison culture is truly transforming.
Watch the amazing video below of one of the inmate handlers who is now released from prison:
From Inmates and Correctional Staff:
"Most of the inmates have slowly come out of their shell and have become part of an elite group of men who have learned to trust, open their hearts again, have learned patience, and to help their fellow man." -Officer D. Shubin
“Being amongst the dogs as they’re being taught and witnessing their unconditional love is therapeutic. For me to get to interact with them offers healing. New Life K9s provides an avenue for us to give back to the community. It gives us an opportunity to put others first. It tells me that, even though I’m a prisoner, I still have value, worth, and I still matter.” -CTF Inmate (U.S. Marine Corp)
"The NLK9 dog program here at CTF-Soledad has deeply impacted my life. I have been given a tremendous responsibility in being entrusted with my puppy Jett. I have been given the honor to teach him how to be a service dog for a U.S. Veteran or First Responder suffering from PTSD or other physical disability." -Prado, J.
"I feel very fortunate to be participating in this wonderful teaching program. It is contributing to a more equitable living environment, and by extension, a better work environment for the Correctional Officers and Staff. Thank you New Life K9s for leading the charge in the fight for our Service men and women, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of the team." -Treadaway, E.
"To say that I am teaching and bonding with my gentle and loving yellow lab, Sonny, would only be half the story. Sonny is actually teaching me more about myself than I could have ever imagined." -Kube, R.
“To me, New Life K9s means an opportunity to be more than just a correctional sergeant giving orders all the time. The program is giving a group of guys an opportunity to express themselves, make decisions without somebody telling them, follow through, and set goals and achieve them. These opportunities for this group of guys would have never been possible if New Life K9s hadn’t come along. Thank you to New Life K9s, the program has not only changed the inmates, it has changed staff, it has changed me.” -CTF Sergeant
“I am really proud of them (inmates). In 23 years being in CDCR I’ve been taught you’re not supposed to have a connection with inmates by any means. With this group, because there is so much one on one training and communication, you have more of a connection with them, and I think they’re doing a fantastic job. I see the difference in them, they’re not in it for themselves, they’re in it for the people that are eventually going to be privileged to have these dogs, and the communities out there. I look at this group of inmates differently than all my years in CDCR. I’ve never had a connection with a group of incarcerated inmates like I do with these guys. I trust them, I believe in them, and I think that their love for the program and their love for the dogs is pure, and that makes me feel proud for what the guys are doing.” -CTF Captain
“On a personal level, New Life K9s and what it is all about is really fulfilling to me too. I never thought that I would be a part of something like this within CDCR. When you think of being in the department of corrections as an employee, you think of just feeding the guys and doing the bare minimum to keep them locked up, and I think having a program like this has opened my eyes to see beyond just an inmate. You’re seeing a human being, you’re seeing someone that has feelings and you’re seeing someone who actually has emotion and is connected to something outside of what you read about them on their files. I think it's a great opportunity and I am proud to be a part of it.” -CTF Captain
These are only just a few of the numerous letters that New Life K9s receives from those whose lives are being reformed in many ways.
Watch the speech by dog handler Tim at CTF Graduation in October of 2019.