Stanley Prison gained a few new inmates this morning as eight Labrador puppies arrived, beginning a new program in Wisconsin to help train dogs for people with disabilities.

“The dogs that come out of the prison programs are amazing,” Dyan Larson said, the Canine Program Instructor for the inmates.

Stanley Correctional Institute is 1 of 5, and now the first Wisconsin prison a part of the Can Do Canines assistance dog training program; to help train service dogs to assist people who are deaf, have limited mobility, autism, diabetes and seizure disorders.

“We have over 180 people on our waiting list right now, and finding enough community volunteers is always difficult to get the dogs trained and the numbers we need can be tough, so we first got introduced to the idea of the prison program and it’s been wonderful,” Julianne Larsen said, the Director of Training for Can Do Canines.

“What we can do in an 8 week class, these guys can do in a week,” Dyan added.

Inmates, aside from obtaining a job, volunteer to be a part of the program; a program that’s taken almost two years to come to Stanley Prison.

at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, Friday, July 11, 2013, in Lexington, Okla. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

“It helps the community getting the dogs trained,” Reed Richardson said, the Warden at Stanley Correctional Institute. “So it helps Can Do Canines with the staffing and having the inmates 24/7, but it also helps the inmates, helps the climate of the institution and calm the inmates down.”

Each puppy is assigned to two inmates and one dog sitter, and the dog will actually live right in the cell with the inmates.

Dog trainers say on average, it costs $25,000 to raise one service dog.

“These guys are basically doing like $12,000 of raising,” Larson added. “What a way to give back to the community.”

“It’s good for the inmate as well for the dogs because we’re going to get a chance to help these people out and we’re going to learn something and give back at the same time,” Daniel Hodge said, a Prison Puppy Program inmate.

Can Do Canines has placed more than 500 dogs in Wisconsin and Minnesota; and currently have 130-150 dogs in the program.

“Our prison programs have found that even the clients that get those dogs they get such a great thing; they’re very proud that their dog was raised in prison,” Julianne said.