Leader Dog Receives National Award for Prison Puppy Program

Published in: Update - Issue 1 - 2014 »   
Photo of a very young yellow lab/golden retriever cross puppy sitting outside on cement and wearing his Future Leader Dog bandana

Late last year, our prison puppy raising program was selected as the winner of Mutual of America Foundation’s 2013 Community Partnership Award. Our selection was recognized at events sponsored by Mutual of America, both in New York City this past November and in January at a Hometown Celebration held in Rochester Hills, Michigan. A highlight of both events was the viewing of a documentary produced by Mutual of America focusing on the strengths of the program’s success—partnership, purpose and, of course, puppies. The video is now available on the Leader Dog YouTube page at youtube.com/leaderdogvideos.

The program’s recent recognition was over a decade in the making. The first puppy was delivered to an inmate in an Iowa prison in 2002. Leader Dog, our community of puppy raisers and prison staff took a leap of faith in initiating the project. The program now has inmate raisers at seven facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and most recently, Michigan. Today, inmates have raised over 600 puppies and many contribute to the program as volunteers, sponsors and through their local Lions Clubs after they return to their communities.

Photo of a very young yellow lab/golden retriever cross puppy sitting outside on cement and wearing his Future Leader Dog bandana

Raisers at the Chippewa Correctional Facility

During her acceptance of the award, presented by the Mutual of America Foundation’s Chairman Thomas Gilliam, Leader Dog CEO Sue Daniels acknowledged that Leader Dogs, regardless of where they are raised, require the right start in life to achieve the significant role they play in a client’s life, “Leader Dogs are intelligent, educated and caring companions who have the immense responsibility of being the eyes of their human partners; who are entrusted to guide our clients on their journeys through life.” Warden James McKinney, the first prison leader to seriously explore the benefits for inmates raising Future Leader Dogs, noted the tremendous amount of volunteerism, resources and commitment by the prison leadership and the inmates to the Leader Dog mission through this program.

We would like to thank our key partners in this endeavor—

  • Lions Clubs International
  • North Central Correctional Facility, Rockwell City, Iowa
  • Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, Fort Dodge, Iowa
  • Newton Correctional Facility, Newton, Iowa
  • Chippewa Correctional Facility, Kincheloe, Michigan
  • Baraga Correctional Facility, Baraga, Michigan
  • Minnesota Correctional Facility, Lino Lakes, Minnesota
  • The Sangor B. Powers Correctional Facility, Oneida, Wisconsin
  • Purina Pro Plan