Puppies Behind Bars

"Puppies Behind Bars" trains inmates to raise puppies in their Service Dog Program for veterans and trains Explosive Detection Canines for law enforcement. The Backup Buddy program trains dogs for First Responders. Another program "Paws & Reflect Friendly Visiting Program" trains the dogs with homebound elderly in New York City to get used to oxygen machines, walkers, and more.

News stories and some videos are available from the Press Coverage page:

Read about Our Mission and History beginning in 1997 to date.

Programs and Applications

  • Service Dogs for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Dog Tags®: Service Dogs for Those Who've Served US® was established by Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) in 2006 to provide service dogs to combat veterans returning home from Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan (OEF) who have suffered a physical injury, including traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Labrador retriever puppies are raised and trained in prison from the age of 8 weeks until they are ready to be placed with a veteran, which is usually when the dog is between 20 and 28 months of age. When a puppy is matched with a disabled veteran, final training with the vet and the dog continues specific to the veteran's needs.

    Download the application for a Dog Tags®: Service Dog. (.pdf)

  • Backup Buddy® Service Dogs for Those Who Serve & Protect®. A long-standing relationship with first responders and law enforcement agencies.

    Since 2018, we have been breeding and training Labradors for our frontline First Responders. We want to thank you for the work you do on a daily basis and we want to help you, if you have Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) or physical injuries from the job, get back on your feet again. …By the time one of our dogs is paired with you, that dog has at least 10,000 hours of socialization, which means it has been to schools, libraries, houses of worship, baseball games, kids' football games, to the movies, on city busses and on trains, and in Manhattan for countless weekends. It means it has been exposed to so many different experiences and people, that it's learned to take everything in stride—so that you can, once again, as well. … because all our dogs are raised in prison, they have developed an empathy and responsiveness to humans which we have never seen in any other dogs. Our dogs live in prison with "puppy raisers," who are people who generally feel vulnerable and emotionally fragile. Our dogs learn, instinctively, to help people who need them. A lot of our first responders have hit rock bottom by the time they come to us: they may have tried self-medicating; their families may have fallen apart or threatened to; they are taking more prescription medications than they want to; they may have thought about or tried to commit suicide. And then they get a Puppies Behind Bars Backup Buddy® and for reasons, to be honest, that even we do not fully understand, their lives change. The dogs provide the confidence needed for our first responders to re-engage with their families and the world. Puppies Behind Bars pays for all the costs associated with getting a Backup Buddy®. We will provide a hotel room, transportation, and meals for the 14 days that we train you, at a facility in upstate NY, to become a team with your new dog.

    Download the application for First Responders. (.pdf)

  • Facility Dogs For Police Departments. Puppies Behind Bars provides facility dogs to police departments to assist with officer wellness and community policing. However, we do have conditions and a screening process through which we determine an appropriate match for one of our dogs. Our application screening process is a result of 25 years of experience of knowing what helps our dogs succeed and the quality of life they need to maintain in order to cope with the demands of working.  Updated

    We want to share some of the roadblocks and talking points we've run across with other departments who were incorporating a PBB service dog into their department. BEFORE you apply, please download and read the following document: Information for Departments to Consider before selecting an officer to apply for a service dog from: Puppies Behind Bars "Service Dogs for Those Who Serve & Protect"®

    Download the application for Puppies Behind Bars Facility Dogs. (.pdf)

  • Explosive–Detection Canine Program. In response to the attacks on 9/11, PBB began raising explosive-detection canines for law enforcement.
  • Adopt a Released Dog. Because the standards for our service dogs and explosive-detection canines are so high, some dogs do not complete the program for either behavioral or health reasons. These dogs will be released as pets for a charge of $6,000. They will come to you spayed or neutered, current on all their vaccines, and incredibly bonded to humans. The feedback we've received is that recipients never knew that dogs could be as focused on people as are ours. If interested in adopting, please complete and submit the application by e-mail or standard mail.

    Download the application for Released Puppies. (.pdf)

See the Volunteers page for information about how to help as a puppy socializer or a Paws & Reflect volunteer.

Service Dogs & Therapy Animals

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Did you know that service animals are not always dogs. They can include monkeys, cats, and small horses!

There is not a comprehensive list of what types of animals can be service animals. Animals, like people, have different temperaments, limitations, skills, and abilities. Thus, different types and breeds of animals may be trained to perform specific tasks. Matching a particular animal's skills and abilities to the tasks that need to be performed can be an important factor for a person with a disability when selecting a service animal.

Often, phrases are coined to describe the type of impairment or task a particular animal is assisting with-such as "signal dog," "hearing cat," "assistance monkey," "guide horse," and "seizure response dog."

National Association of Guide Dog Users Comments on Silent Hybrid Cars

Traveling with service animals?

Additional links about service animals

  • Service Dogs in Wikipedia
  • Fidos for Freedom Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for people in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan community by providing specially trained hearing dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs. Fidos also educates the public about individuals with disabilities and about the benefits of assistance dogs and therapy dogs and the work that these specially trained dogs do for individuals with disabilities, children with reading difficulties, and patients in health care facilities.
  • Assistance Dogs International, Inc.. The global authority in the service dogs industry. Standards
  • Canadian Guide Dogs For The Blind / Chiens Guides Canadiens Pour Aveugles
  • Epilepsy Ontario Service Dogs [Canada]
  • Guide Dogs of America Guide Dogs of America provides guide dogs and instruction in their use, free of charge, to blind and visually impaired men and women from the United States and Canada.
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind Association [UK]
  • Guide Dogs For The Blind (GDB) Guide Dogs for the Blind is more than an industry-leading guide dog school; we are a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors and volunteers, we prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of our services are provided free of charge; we receive no government funding.
  • Kansas Specialty Dog Service, Inc. changing lives one dog at a time.
  • Working Dog Breeds from K9 Research Lab
  • WorkingDog Magazine
  • Therapeutic Horses
    • Horses Adaptive Riding & Therapy (HART) provides adaptive and recreational riding to individuals with special needs. Based in Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley, we focus on creating a supportive, inclusive and compassionate environment for our clients, staff (two-legged and four-legged) and volunteers.
    • Great and Small Therapeutic Riding "When I ride, I soar." Great and Small provides Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) to children and adults of all ages affected by a range of physical, developmental, emotional, and learning disabilities. Through a supportive and therapeutic engagement with horses we strengthen and empower our riders, helping them develop their full potential. Great and Small is a partner with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission at the Rickman Farm Horse Park in Boyds, Maryland. Their students come from the Montgomery County Public Schools, several private schools, and the local community at large. Great and Small is also proud to serve as a pre-approved Student Service Learning Site for the Montgomery County Public Schools.

      Great and Small believes that the essential qualities of power and sensitivity embodied in the horse can strengthen and empower persons of all ages and abilities.

    • Hippotherapy and Therapeutic/Adaptive Riding "Which one is best for my child?" by The Children's TherAplay Foundation, Inc. Through hippotherapy, specially-trained physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech/language pathologists apply the movement, rhythm, and repetition of the horse's movement as a treatment strategy to help patients achieve therapeutic goals. Using different combinations of patterns, speeds, and riding postures, highly-trained therapists are able to provide precisely the sensory and neurological input each child will benefit from most. Therapeutic / adaptive riding is a recreational activity that has been adapted for those with special needs and tend to be related to riding skills building confidence and relationships, and emotional well-being.
    • Horses Healing Maryland's Military A coalition of licensed Maryland stables offering horsemanship and therapeutic programs to Veterans and their families. Their Program Directory page contains a list of stables that are licensed through the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB), and provide equine assisted services for active-duty members, Veterans and their families.
    • Maryland Therapeutic Riding The Natural Healing and Therapeutic Power of Horses.
    • Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program
    • Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International), a federally-registered 501(c3) nonprofit, was formed in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association to promote equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for individuals with special needs.
    • Talisman Therapeutic Riding is a non-profit organization offering a variety of programs to create therapeutic opportunities while providing exposure to an environment of well-being and learning.
      Photo of an elderly woman communing with a beautiful chestnut-colored horse. He is looking back at her and her hand is on his nose.
      Zachary and Gay. Photo Credit: Talisman Therapeutic Riding.

      At Talisman, we believe in the transformative, healing power of horses and our natural environment. We serve, empower all, and lead by example with compassion, dignity, and inclusivity.