Federal Inmates Praise "Paws 4 People" at WVU
Written by Andrew Forgotch
Last updated on February 16, 2012 @ 8:02PM
Created on February 16, 2012 @ 7:25PM
How would you feel if a federal prisoner showed up to where you are, with a dog and then asked to talk?
Some WVU students had to deal with that exact situation Thursday.
The inmates participate in a program called "Paws 4 Prisons", which is a division of the "Paws 4 People" program.
The dogs start in the women's facility at the Hazelton Federal Prison and then finish at the men's camp.
The inmates train service dogs to help folks living with a disability.
After an inmate is carefully selected they'll train the dog and give them more than 100 specific commands.
Volunteers with the program say it helps with their transition back into society.
"They get to give back," WVU Professor, Jeri Kerbi says. "They get close to the dogs, but they're also on point with what the dogs need to do specifically the individuals they're going to."
Thursday was also a special day for a teen from Fairmont. After about five months of training and interaction with his dog, Alex Keefover was able to take his service dog home today.
"It's going to be a huge help," Alex's mom, Jennifer Keefover says. "Any step towards his independence is our main goal and this is a huge step to that."
The Keefover family also mentions working with the program has allowed them to build a relationship with an inmate, which is something they never imagined.
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