National Education for Assistance Dog Services or NEADS is a non-profit organization that was created in 1976. This Princeton, MA based organization offers Assistance Service dogs to Veterans and people with physical disabilities like hearing or vision loss. NEADS started their Prison PUP Partnership in 1998. The program was designed to have inmates who are in good standing to raise and train a pup anywhere from 12 to 18 months. The program involves a lot of work and the chosen inmates goes through a few screening process. In the video below, you will see an emotional reunion of a NEADS dog and its handler who is an inmate.
One of the veterans who received a service dog from NEADS decided to pay a visit and say thank you to his pup’s handler that was incarcerated in JJ Moran Medium I in Cranston, Rhode Island. Sgt. Austin Burchard got injured during his first tour in Afghanistan. Burchard had spent 21 months at the hospital and had 15 surgeries after a bullet entered his left side and wreaked havoc to his health. The vet was told that he would probably spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, a very heartbreaking news. Becoming disable is a hard thing to accept for most people. Because of Burchard’s disability he was given a NEADS assistance dog to help him cope with the challenges that he faces every day.
In the video, Burchard says thank you to all the inmates who participated in the program. He made the especial trip from Florida to Cranston, RI to say thank you to Joey Correa, the inmate who trained his assistant service dog Chase. The injured soldier is very glad to have Chase in his life, which he once thought was over since he became disable. Chase was trained for three months by Correa to perform different tasks and house chores such as opening the fridge and turning the lights on and off. The tasks that the pup learned are very useful in making Burchard’s life easier. The program also has a positive impact on the inmates’ lives. According to Correa, “the program changed his life; the way that he thinks of animals now.” Correa’s happiness is painted all over his face as he plays with Chase, who is also very happy to see him.
It’s good to know that programs like this exist because it gives inmates a new purpose in life. Training dogs to help disabled people is a great thing to do and it teaches them more about responsibilities. It helps take their mind off the negative things in life as well.
Image via YouTube.com