Wounded war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan receive prison-trained service dogs, free of charge, through the Dog Tags initiative of Puppies Behind Bars.
My name is Susan. I'll be released from prison next week after serving 27 years. I have been involved with Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) for two years. I have started this letter many times, outlining PBB's history, what's expected of us, etc. However, I want to explain PBB's importance to so many people, inside and out.
When you are in prison everything you need to survive is given to you. You are grateful for people who volunteer to help but wonder why someone would come to a maximum-security prison to give unselfishly. Ultimately you realize that people get satisfaction from helping others. PBB offers an opportunity for inmates to give rather than receive. For the first time in many years we have been given the gift of trust. In turn we have learned to trust.
PBB requires time, energy and dedication. PBB shares their expertise with us and even brings guide dog users to prison so we understand why our work is important. Nothing less than our best efforts is acceptable. PBB began as a program to utilize inmates to maximize the number of puppies available for guide dog training and evolved into a program that allows inmates to constructively use their time while repaying their debt to society. I have received far more than I have given.
I cannot thank the instructors enough for being who they are or for the Power that sent them into our lives. Daily, they give us more than I can put into words.