There is nothing better than visiting your friends and family while you are in prison. A few hours with your loved ones can go a long way towards your attitude and ability to survive prison life. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to hearing my name called so I can go to the visiting room.
Of course, not all of my friends are human. My fur baby, my adorable cat Dale, and my adorable puppy, Titus, are a big part of my world. I love seeing their sweet little faces when I wake up in the morning, but not so much when Titus needs to go to the bathroom or Dale knocks things off the table!
Many inmates have pets that they are required to keep while locked up, and that companionship is greatly missed. So, this begs the question: Can a dog visit you in prison?
In this blog post, I’ll cover:
- visiting rules
- Puppies on parole and other canine prison programs
Every prison has very strict rules about visiting rooms. Allowing anyone into a prison is a security risk, so visitors go through an approval process before being placed on an inmate’s visitation list. Then, when they come to visit the prison, the visitors must go through multiple searches to make sure they are not carrying contraband.
There is also a strict dress code, specific rules about what you are allowed to bring into the visiting room, rules about how you behave in the visiting room, and most importantly, you are under surveillance at all times.
With so many restrictions, it is simply impossible for them to allow visitors to bring dogs into the visiting room. However, there may be one exception—service dogs. If a visitor needs a service dog, they may obtain permission from the warden to bring the animal in for the visit. However, this is extremely rare.
Puppies on parole and other canine prison programs
Although visitors are not allowed to bring dogs, many inmates are still able to form relationships with canine companions thanks to programs like Parole Puppies and Prison Puppies. These programs allow selected inmates to raise and train a puppy to become a service dog, who are then adopted by those who need their services.
The puppies usually arrive at the prison at about 8 weeks of age, and over the next few months they are trained to be service dogs for the disabled, elderly and veterans.
Some states also have programs for rescue dogs in need of rehabilitation. The Marin Humane Society’s San Quentin Pen Pal Program pairs low-security inmates who need to work with rescue dogs, and over a six-month period, inmates will help their dogs gain confidence and learn basic obedience skills so they can be used by rescue dogs. Adopt forever family.
At the Missouri women’s prison where I was incarcerated, they had the CHAMP assistance dog program, which allowed some inmates to have temporary canine “roommates” that they trained as service animals for people with disabilities.
If you are concerned about the treatment of dogs in prisons, I can say from first-hand experience that these dogs are treated better in prisons than people. The dogs at our camp have their own wings in a housing unit, there is a dog park outside the housing unit, and they eat better food than we do. They even have a Halloween parade where trainers dress their dogs in little costumes and walk them around the campsite. It is very cute.
There is also an intensive screening process for inmates who want to be part of the canine program, as they don’t want dogs falling into the hands of people with a history of animal cruelty or sex crimes.
Canine programs in prisons are one of the best because these dogs are an inmate’s best friend. The inmates get a great experience learning how to care for, train and say goodbye to the dogs, and it allows the inmates to do something to contribute to society.
The dogs also help with stress and provide companionship, which can be hard to come by in prisons. Canine programs can provide inmates with marketable job skills if they want to pursue careers as dog trainers, groomers or veterinary assistants.
Inmates may not see their dogs during visits, but many prisons do have canine programs that allow inmates to bond with these furry critters.
Do you know a dog who graduated from a prison program? Let us know in the comments below.