Local inmates train shelter dogs for veterans - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local inmates train shelter dogs for veterans

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VIENNA, Ill. -- The Shawnee Correctional Facility has partnered with Project Hope Humane Society to create a program that pairs veterans with a shelter dog, trained by inmates. 

A group of seven inmates has worked with three dogs over the past 90 days to obey basic commands and be crate trained. This includes offenders Kema Fair and Jaime Cornejo, who help take care of and train the dogs, preparing them for veterans.

Which is exactly why Fair wanted to take part in the program, "They said they were mostly going to be adopted out to veterans who needed them for PTSD and therapy treatment, so that was a real big incentive."

In addition to training, the dogs have learned a few new tricks such as shaking hands. While Jericho, a Lab-Australian Shepherd Mix, has even been mastered how to salute! 

Over the three months, special relationships have unfolded between the men participating in the program and the dogs. 

"I bonded with Bowser, from day one he took to me," Cornejo said. "At first he was shy, scared, skittish. He's become a good dog, a very obedient dog." 

Last week, the dogs completed their training and had a graduation ceremony with one of the dogs being adopted by a veteran. However, two dogs are still up for adoption

Veterans interested in Bowser or Jericho can call the Project Hope Humane Society in Metropolis at (618) 524-8939, which has waived the adoption fee. The dogs are ready for their forever home. They have their shots, a journal documenting their time at the center while being trained and their very own hand-painted portrait. 

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