Puppies for Parole operates through our partnerships with animal shelters and animal advocate groups statewide. In Puppies for Parole, selected offenders in Missouri prisons have the opportunity to become trainers to rescue dogs. Offenders teach dogs basic obedience skills and socialize them, making them more adoptable. Once the dogs have successfully completed the program, they are adopted through their original shelters.
The program saves dogs' lives, helping to find forever homes for abandoned and stray dogs. Since the program started in 2010, more than 5,000 dogs have graduated from training and have been adopted. Some of these dogs were specially trained to work with people with disabilities, veterans and Missourians receiving mental health treatment.
Offender dog handlers are enrolled in an apprenticeship program through the U.S. Department of Labor. Through formal training, individualized study and on-the-job training, offenders earn a certificate in animal handling, which is recognized in all 50 states. Puppies for Parole gives offenders the skills necessary to support successful rehabilitation and reentry, ultimately improving public safety. Participants have higher employment rates and lower recidivism rates after release. They also benefit from the opportunity to give back to Missouri communities. The program has a profound effect on inmates and staff, improving safety, security and morale in the facilities.
Puppies for Parole uses no general revenue and operates solely on private donations and donations from offender organizations.
Benefits to the Community
- Reduces the number of Missouri dogs euthanized and living in animal shelters
- Gives Missourians a chance to adopt family-friendly dogs
- Provides trained dogs to citizens with special needs
Benefits to Offender Dog Handlers
- Teaches vocational skills and responsibility
- Provides an opportunity to give back to the community and learn altruistic behavior
- Offers therapeutic support for offenders with mental health issues or terminal illnesses
Benefits to Correctional Institutions
- Boosts staff and offender morale
- Provides an incentive for offenders to modify their behavior
- Enhances safe environments in prisons
- Promotes mental health
In 2018 Puppies for Parole celebrates the adoption of 5,000 DOC-trained Missouri shelter dogs since the program's 2010 inception.
Ellie, the designated 5,000th dog, is a redbone coonhound mix from Grabb Animal Shelter in Fulton, Missouri. When she was four months old, she was enrolled in the S.T.A.R.S. (Socialization Training for Animal’s Reentry into Society) P4P program at Algoa Correctional Center (ACC) in Jefferson City, Missouri, to learn basic obedience. Ellie was adopted at first glance by ACC employee Brian Hogue, who already had coonhound at home and knew Ellie would be a perfect addition to his family.
Puppies for Parole Program Guide