Hope for Shelter Dogs and Their Incarcerated Caregivers

J.W. (right) and new student. Photo courtesy Patriot Service Dogs.

“Count complete at Charlie Dorm,” the gray-uniformed officer calls into his radio. “Thirty inmates, 14 canines.”

This ritual, individually counting every woman incarcerated at the Lowell Correctional Facility (and every canine in their care), happens five times a day. The dogs of Charlie Dorm know the routine, and patiently wait in their kennels while their inmate trainers sit silently on their bunks.

A voice muffled by radio static replies, “Compound count complete. All clear.”

“All clear,” the guard yells down the hallway.

With the signal given, the dogs stand and stretch while their trainers bounce back into work mode—there’s training to be done, baths to be given, reports that need double-checking. Count time is the only time Charlie Dorm isn’t a hive of activity.

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