The first four assistance dogs in Borallon Training and Correctional Centre’s new Smart Pups program received a round of ap-paws after graduating earlier this week.
Honey, Hunter, Mac and Murphy began the program in September last year following a new partnership forged between the centre and Smart Pups.
Minister for Corrective Services Mark Ryan said it was wonderful to see the Smart Pups program established in another Queensland Corrective Services centre to improve prisoner outcomes.
“This is a great initiative that provides prisoners with valuable skills that improves their chances of employment and reintegrating with the community once released’ Minister Ryan said.
“It’s heartening to see another rehabilitation program helping prisoners address the causes of offending.
“Programs such as the Smart Pups program not only help prisoners learn new skills, but it also helps with their transition into the community,” the Minister said.
The Smart Pups program is the first step of training for the assistance dogs.
Once all training is complete, the dogs will be placed with a child in need of assistance somewhere in Australia or New Zealand based on the dog’s individual abilities to help the child.
Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Martin APM said the Smart Pups program was another way the centre was attempting to break the cycle of re-offending.
“International research confirms that dog handling programs such as this are effective in helping improve prisoner behaviour while in custody, with prisoners half as likely to re-offend when compared to those not involved in a dog handling program,” Commissioner Martin said.
“As a top-tier forward thinking public safety agency, we are committed to maximising the opportunity for prisoners to rehabilitate and reintegrate to lead a more productive life post-release.”
Smart Pups Senior Dog Trainer Dayle Telford said there had been 16 successful graduates through the Prisoner Training Program that are now qualified working assistance dogs.
“We have around 60 clients on our waiting list. Having this program can help reduce the time frame for those children desperately needing their special friend,” Ms Telford said.
“This valuable program is a win-win for both the correctional centre and Smart Pups.”
Prisoners at Borallon Training and Correctional Centre are currently training another four assistance dogs through the Smart Pups program and are due to graduate in May.