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Pruntytown Inmates Help Train Service Dogs Through Paws 4 People Program

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TAYLOR COUNTY -

Paws 4 People is an organization that trains dogs to help those in need.

Now, inmates at the Pruntytown Correctional Center in Taylor County are helping the cause.

"In 2006 we opened our first prison program in Preston County. Now we are opening here at Pruntytown," said Kyria Henry, Paws 4 People founder. "This is our fifth prison facility that we will have a program in."

The Paws for Prison program teaches federal inmates to train various types of assistance dogs.

"We just finished a two week boot camp teaching them everything they need to know to be able to train these dogs and begin taking care of them," Henry said.

Some inmates said there is a lot of things they didn't realize went into training the dogs.

"I took these classes and it opened my eyes up to everything that the dog really needs," said Lucas Hamilton, Pruntytown inmate.

Paws 4 People said the program is effective.

"Being a former prisoner hired by Paws 4 People, you see the positive effect," said Mark Reynolds, Paws 4 People. "We hope we have positive effect with the inmates and we will be able to provide the service dogs for any children or veterans."

Training the dogs will become the inmates full time job.

"We are starting off small. We have four dogs right now and with the potential to go to more dogs," said Deputy Warden Mike Martin, Pruntytown Correctional Center. "I think they talked about having eight to 10 dogs or even more once we get the program in full swing."

Two of the dogs being trained are from the Marion County Humane Society.

"We are hoping they get to learn how to live in a home-like environment. Hopefully it makes them more adoptable," said Amanda Allenby, Marion County Humane Society director. "It also gets them out for one-on-one time."

"They get trained and when they're brought back to the Humane Society they are so much more adoptable by families," said Tina Shaw, Marion County Chamber of Commerce. "We are really thrilled that the Humane Society has reached out to the Paws 4 People Foundation too."

Lucas Hamilton said he has nine more months until he sees the parole board and would love to stay involved with the program.

"Even when I get out I am going to try to stay with it," he said. "It definitely opens your eyes to where you definitely want to continue helping."

If you would like more information on Paws 4 People and what it aims to do, visit its website.