by James Rioux, Director-Old Colony Correctional Center
It has been said that dogs are man’s best friend. That adage rings true at Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater Massachusetts. Since June of 2016, the Prison Pups Program has been pairing foster dogs with Old Colony Correctional Center (OCCC) minimum security inmates under the guidance of Captain David Kenneally. Captain Kenneally saw the amazing results other canine programs were having within the facility’s walls, specifically the NEADS and Vets Dog programs, and was inspired to incorporate his love of dogs with the potential for greatness that a foster program could bring. The outcome has been remarkable.
Officer Matthew Roderiques (left) and Captain David Kenneally (right) after
accepting the’ Titan of Change Award’ at the Royale in Boston on 10/5/17.
The Prison Pups Program joins interested inmates, who must first apply to become handlers, with dogs in needs of fostering, until they find their forever homes through an organization called Last Hope K9 Animal Rescue. Inmates are paired with specific dogs based on the bio’s of both the dog and handler. Officer Matthew Rodriques, who has two dogs of his own and supervises the program, uses an interview panel to find the appropriate match of dog and inmate handler. Each dog has two handlers who give the dog constant care, attention and training. Each pup receives at least two weeks of intensive training, specifically designed by OCCC, and of course, lots of love! The dogs are a fixture in the lives of the inmate handlers, going to work, meals and even sleeping in their cells. All 130 inmates at Old Colony Minimum have daily interactions with the dogs. This type of one-on-one attention, as well as group socialization, is not only beneficial for the dogs, it is a great benefit to the inmates, and inmate handlers as well. “The dogs bring a whole new vibe”, states Capt. Kenneally, it changes the atmosphere of the unit entirely. Inmates have stated they feel a new responsibility, a desire to “do right” towards these animals. For many men, this is a chance to move past their mistakes and use their lives to create a positive change for the dogs they care for. Even those who are not handlers experience the simple joy a pet can give by just watching the dogs play in the yard of the facility.
Lt. Hank Lavalley, another dog lover who is also directly involved in the program commented that the “program is all about the dogs”. He expressed the joy in seeing a shy, scared and often traumatized dog, when paired with a loving, caring and dedicated inmate handler, grow and change into a happy and wonderful canine companion. These dogs are getting a second chance at life, and it is with the help of the inmates and correctional staff involved. Since its beginning just one year ago, the Prison Pups Program at OCCC has fostered 49 dogs and 43 of those dogs have found their forever homes.
Recently, Capt. Kenneally and Officer Matthew Roderiques were awarded the “Titan of Change” award from Last Hope K9 Animal Rescue, the sister organization that pairs the foster dogs with OCCC. This award recognizes “the commitment and outstanding service to promote animal rescue”. We are extremely proud of the wonderful work that Capt. Kenneally, Officer Roderiques, and the inmate handlers have done in training and caring for these wonderful animals. We recognize the Prison Pups Program as a first class reflection of the goals and values of the Last Hope K9 Animal Rescue, and congratulate everyone involved with the program.
For more information about pups who are available for adoption at OCCC, the application process, and fees associated with adoption, visit the “What’s New” section located on the of Old Colony Correctional Facility intranet page.