Many veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries that make daily life especially challenging. The Dog Tags Program, organized by Puppies Behind Bars, pairs disabled veterans with a highly-trained companion service dog.
Puppies Behind Bars is a program within the Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York. In this program, prison inmates train puppies to become companion service dogs. The dogs go to disabled individuals to help them live fuller lives.
With the Dog Tags Program, some of the trained companion dogs from Puppies Behind Bars will be given to veterans. The Veterans Administration also offers this service, but unfortunately, the demand for fully-trained service dogs outweighs the supply.
All costs incurred by raising the dog, matching the veteran with the right companion dog and training the two to work together are paid for by Puppies Behind Bars. Puppies Behind Bars will also cover the cost of one family member's travel to the companion dog school in New York or Colorado to meet the dog and learn how to care for it.
The puppies are taught 106 service tasks in the Puppies Behind Bars program. These tasks greatly increase a disabled person's independence, and any dog owner realizes the emotional benefits of dog ownership.