Puppies Behind Bars is funded entirely by private contributions. We depend on the generosity of our donors to continue our work. We are a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, tax I.D. #13-3969389, and donations are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law.
If you have questions about our finances or about supporting our work, please call Eric Barsness, Director of Development, at 212.680.9562.
Puppies Behind Bars is a participating member of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC #11902) and Animal Charities of America.
We are proud to announce that Puppies Behind Bars has earned its fourteenth consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Receiving four out of a possible four stars indicates that our organization adheres to good governance and other best practices and that we consistently execute our mission in a fiscally responsible way.
Fewer than 1% of the charities rated have received at least fourteen consecutive 4-star evaluations. Charity Navigator is America’s premier independent charity evaluator.
Click to view the announcement from Charity Navigator, and visit our profile.
Although 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 service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders, as well as explosive-detection canines (EDCs) for law enforcement. To date, PBB has raised more than 1200 puppies.
Our goals are to train the best working dogs available, to keep the dogs happy and healthy, to train the inmate puppy raisers in our program to be skilled dog handlers, and to maintain a high “graduation” rate, with approximately 75% of our dogs going on to lead successful and productive working lives. (Dogs that do not graduate are released for adoption.)
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 inmate puppy raisers, from the age of 8 weeks until they leave our program between the ages of 12 and 24 months. We adapt constantly our instruction and dog training methods based on our own experience, on input from other experts, and on feedback from the veterans, first responders, and law enforcement officers who are ultimately paired with our dogs. We achieve high graduation rates by carefully selecting 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 six full- and part-time instructors, who teach in seven correctional facilities. Approximately 140 inmates participate in our program as puppy raisers. Members of our instructional staff also conduct two to four “team training” sessions annually, during which veterans and first responders are paired, and learn to work with, their new service dogs. PBB’s finances are healthy, with a broad base of individual and foundation support allowing us to maintain our programs.
PBB measures success both quantitatively and qualitatively. The longevity of our program is an indication of its health, and the large 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 gauge 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, wounded veterans, and first responders who benefit from it. (click here to view press coverage of PBB.) Finally, we hear frequently 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 veterans and first responders, news about our EDCs, and other updates about our work (click here to view past newsletters).