Service Dogs Graduate with Military Honors

Inmates train service dogs for injured war veterans.

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by Stevie French

EAGLE RIVER - Prison systems provide a space for continual rehabilitation. Education, therapy and art classes are often available to inmates as part of this process. But at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, teaching and learning are taking a different form.

The Hiland Mountain Service Dog program enlists the help of inmates and volunteers in the training of service dogs for wounded war veterans.

Wednesday (2/10), Madison and Bella were the 6th and 7th service dogs to graduate from this program, which began in 2007.

As well as providing physical and emotional services, the dogs are trained to give a sense of normalcy to the veterans.

General Mike Bridges of the U.S. Army says, "[The veterans] are not looking for sympathy as much as support, encouragement and understanding".

The program lasts 18 months and there are several dogs still in training.

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