Putting Puppies Behind Bars (For A Good Cause)

A black Lab puppy named Samba at the U.S. Capitol i i

hide captionSamba, a black Lab trained in the Puppies Behind Bars program, was trained as a companion animal and has worked with combat veteran Paul Bang-Knudsen (below) since February 2009. They visited Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

Courtesy Paul Bang-Knudsen
A black Lab puppy named Samba at the U.S. Capitol

Samba, a black Lab trained in the Puppies Behind Bars program, was trained as a companion animal and has worked with combat veteran Paul Bang-Knudsen (below) since February 2009. They visited Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

Courtesy Paul Bang-Knudsen

It's Animal Week on Fresh Air; during these last days of summer, we're featuring rebroadcasts of our best conversations about animals and how we live with them.

Paul Bang-Knudsen and Samba i i
Paul Bang-Knudsen and Samba

Gloria Gilbert Stoga is the founder of Puppies Behind Bars, a canine training program that partners puppies with prison inmates. At the end of their training, the dogs are placed in the outside world, either as bomb-sniffing animals or as service dogs, providing daily assistance to wounded veterans.

Stoga explains to Dave Davies, senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, that the dogs' training path relies largely on their personalities.

"The bomb-sniffing dog is the dog who is going to be more out front, who's going to make decisions" says Stoga. "The service dog is the dog that's going to constantly look up at the owner and the handler and say what do you want me to do now?"

Nora Moran, a former inmate, and Paul Bang-Knudsen, an Iraq veteran and proud owner of a Puppies Behind Bars service dog, are also on hand to speak about their experiences with the program.

Moran describes herself as angry and confused when she entered prison. "So two years after I became incarcerated," she says, "I joined Puppies Behind Bars and started realizing that dream of being able to be a vehicle for healing and growth."

Gloria Gilbert Stoga founded the program Puppies Behind Bars. Nora Moran is a former inmate, who now works at the program. Paul Bang-Knudsen is a former Marine Corps corporal who was wounded in Iraq.

This interview was originally broadcast Aug. 12, 2009.

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