Dog training program helping inmates with disabilities - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Dog training program helping inmates with disabilities

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CONNELL, Wash.—Last year man's best friend became inmate's best trainer at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.  The dog training program has become not only life-changing for some offenders, but now, seniors and inmates with disabilities are also benefiting. 

Within the past year, 11 more dogs and 30 more handlers have been added to the program.  Inmates train the dogs, which helps them to learn responsibility, social skills and patience. 

Another new addition is the two animals named Brewster and Blue. They're being used as companion dogs for offenders who need medical assistance.  Three times a day for about 30 minutes inmates walk then through the unit, and now the furry creatures are quickly helping to change lives.

"Blue puts his head right up on his bed and he pets him.  Just to see how it really changes his day is very helpful to me," says Alexander Cook, inmate.

"He spoke some Spanish to him, and I had never heard the gentleman speak as much as that," says Ken Hopkins, nurse and supervisor.

"Yeah life is just a little more happier having these dogs in here," says David McGuire, inmate.

After the animals are trained, they're adopted out.  So far nine have been given home. 

Organizers plan to expand the program to 22 dogs and 54 offenders by next August.