Serving With Canines

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Serving With Canines is a cooperative program between Retrieving Independence and the Tennessee Department of Correction in which inmates learn to train service dogs. Our dogs go to the Turney Center Industrial Complex in Only, Tennessee, where inmates receive 30 hours of intense training before beginning work with a puppy.

After successfully completing their initial training, a team of two inmates receives a puppy that will live, work and train with them for the next 12 to 18 months under the direct supervision of RI trainers and staff. The inmates are responsible for teaching standard obedience skills as well as specialized advanced assistance skills. By the end of the program, the dogs know at least 110 cues and have more than 600 hours of dedicated training sessions. The dogs have accumulated more than 1,000 hours of additional practice as the dogs accompany inmate trainers throughout their daily routines.

We are always actively training new service dogs. With the help of the inmates and our trainers, we can train up to 18 dogs at a time at Turney Center. These dogs have a specialized facility that allows them to practice skills that they will use out on the job as Service Dogs.

“Retrieving Independence Serving with Canines program not only does a service to the community but also, it has allowed our population at the Turney Center (a reason) to get up in the morning. It gives them a sense of love and care.”
– Warden Debra K. Johnson, Turney Center Industrial Complex