While specifics of PBB’s program have evolved over time, the organization has remained true to its core mission—training inmates to raise exceptional working dogs. We currently train EDCs and service dogs for disabled veterans.
Our goals are to train the best working dogs available, to keep the dogs happy and healthy, and to maintain a high “graduation” rate, with at least 80% of our dogs going on to productive working lives.
We train excellent working dogs by offering rigorous instruction and guidance to the inmates in our program. The dogs receive 24-hour-a-day attention from their puppy raisers, from the age of eight weeks until they leave our program between the ages of 12 and 24 months. We constantly adapt our instruction and dog training methods based on our own experience, on input from other experts, and on feedback from the veterans and law enforcement officers who are ultimately paired with our dogs. We achieve high graduation rates by carefully selecting and breeding dogs with ideal characteristics for working life, and through the flexibility that training two different types of working dogs lends our program. This allows us to switch a dog’s career path if its response to early training indicates that a change might lead to greater success. The dogs, in this sense, choose the career for which they are best suited.
PBB’s staff includes eight full- and part-time instructors, who teach in six correctional facilities. Approximately 125 inmates participate in our program as puppy raisers. Members of our instructional staff also conduct four “team training” sessions annually, during which veterans are paired, and learn to work with, their new Dog Tags service dogs. PBB’s finances are healthy, with a broad base of individual and foundation support allowing us to maintain our programs.
Measuring and Reporting Success
PBB measures success both quantitatively and qualitatively. Our Puppy Placement page tracks all the dogs we have raised, listing graduates with their careers and the year they left our program, as well as dogs released as pets for medical or behavioral reasons. Donor response to our program is a quantifiable indicator of success. Our financial status reflects the strong reputation of our programs and their relevance to the interests of the general public. The longevity of our program is another indication of its health, and the number of inmates participating, as well as the number of prisons where we work, are clear factors in assessing our progress. We also find an indication of our program’s effectiveness in the many PBB inmate puppy raisers who apprise us of their success finding jobs in dog training, grooming, and related fields after they are paroled.
Ongoing media coverage is a qualitative gage of our achievements. From the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal and The Oprah Winfrey Show, many news and entertainment outlets have chronicled our work and what it means to the inmates and disabled veterans who benefit from it. (click here to view press coverage of PBB.) Finally, we hear daily from our clients, volunteers, and inmates about the impact our dogs have on their lives. PBB’s biannual newsletters relay some of these successes with profiles of Dog Tags veterans, news about our EDCs, and other updates about our work (click here to view past newsletters).