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Michael F. Easley

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Theodis Beck

North Carolina Department of Correction

For Release: IMMEDIATE Contact: Mildred Spearman
Date: June 11, 2004 Phone: (919) 716-3700

First class of dogs graduates from guide dog training
Dogs advance to next step in assisting the blind

McCAIN—Nearly 15 months ago, six Labrador Retriever puppies became the newest inmates at McCain Correctional Hospital.  On Friday, June 11, 2004 the puppies became the first graduates of Puppies Assisting with Sight (PAWS), a joint effort between the Department of Correction and Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. to train guide dogs for the blind.

“Puppies Assisting with Sight is a winning program for the department, the inmates and the individuals who will receive the guide dogs,” said Correction Secretary Theodis Beck. “The department is proud to participate in a program that teaches inmates useful skills and gives something back to the community in such a positive and substantial way.”

Southeastern provided the dogs and training for the inmates, while the department provided inmates eager to teach basic obedience, house training and socialization to the future guide dogs. The dogs now will return to Southeastern’s home office in Florida for six months of additional training.  After training is complete, the dogs will be assigned to act as guides for the blind.

Inmates that participate in PAWS earn $1 a day for their jobs, seven days a week, and other costs associated with the program are minimal.  The puppy housing area and training site, which cost approximately $28,000 to build, was funded through the Inmate Welfare Fund.  Southeastern, local businesses and community organizations have joined forces to provide dog food, supplies and veterinary services at no cost to PAWS.  Employees and other volunteers occasionally take the future guide dogs home to help socialize them.

“One of the really great things about this program is that there is such a significant return on such a small investment,” said Secretary Beck.  “This truly is a win-win situation for everybody involved.”

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North Carolina Department of Correction
Public Information Office     4202 Mail Service Center     Raleigh NC 27699-4202
Phone (919) 716-3700      Fax: (919) 716-3795

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