CGC In Prison
I was recently asked to visit the Curran-Fromhold facility which is part of the Philadelphia Prison System. My good friend, Nicole Larocco (the former head of behavior and training for the PSPCA), is part of a new program in the prison that was initiated by Marian Marchese. Inmates with no previous experience with dog training are selected to train rescue dogs from ACCT, a Philadelphia animal shelter. During the ten week program, the new handlers were instructed in positive reinforcement training techniques. The final requirement is having their dogs pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. Graduating from this program is a consideration for parole. I recently became an AKC CGC evaluator and that is the reason for my visit to the prison yesterday.
I was really impressed by both the dogs and the handlers. We had two Pit Bulls, one Black Lab and one mixed breed. The dogs were very responsive and extremely well behaved. The young men were patient with their dogs and extremely competent handlers. I was impressed all the way around. Nicole did a great job instructing them. Needless to say, everybody passed with flying colors.
The handlers have learned a new skill and are very proud of their abilities. After the test, several of the guys asked me about becoming certified dog trainers. I wish them well in the future.