Making a Difference: Inmates train dogs in prison

CUSHING - We went behind razor wire and electric fences into the Cimarron Correctional Facility (CCF) in Cushing. The prison holds more than 1,300 men.   

There are guards and cells and convicts but we also found puppy love.

Christopher Marshall is an inmate who is also a dog trainer inside for Freedom Dogs. He says he sees other inmates change  "They just turn to mush around the dogs.  They love the dogs."

Marshall is serving a long prison sentence . "It was assault and battery with a dangerous weapon."

He was accepted into the Freedom Dogs program, along with other inmates, to train shelter animals which will in turn be put up for adoption. It means the friendships will only last a matter of weeks. Ten weeks of training then the dogs go to foster or permanent homes.

Marshall admits "It's kind of bittersweet."

Colleen Crummy founded Freedom Dogs and reached out to corrections facilities to have inmates take the dogs to the next level.

She has high praise "They do a great job training them."

The inmates also come away with new skills. Laura Green, Case Manager Cimarron Correctional Facility, works in the prison and sees the changes "It definitely teaches them patience. And that's something that they can utilize to not come back into the prison system."

Men paying debts to society helping animals who were about to be put to death only because they were unwanted.    

Crummy say "Most of these dogs came from high kill shelters. They didn't have very long left."

That was before Freedom Dogs pulled them out of shelters and brought them to CCF.  Once they leave the prison for the last time they'll be going out to new lives with loving families. They'll also be leaving something important behind.

Marshall says "I think the greatest thing that these dogs teach us is unconditional love. They don't care what we are, where we're from, who we are just that they love us and we love them and that's the whole meaning of it."
The current group of dogs graduates in a couple of weeks. Then a new platoon of pups comes to prison.

Several of the dogs already have forever homes to go to and the adoption fee is just $100 which includes spaying or neutering, worming, shots and 10 weeks of obedience training.

Donations and foster families are needed to help Freedom Dogs and their programs.

And the program is growing. Next inmates will train puppies to be service dogs for injured veterans.

Click here to find Freedom Dogs on Facebook.  

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