Volunteers

Thank you for your interest in volunteering for Puppies Behind Bars. You must be at least 18 years old and must live in New York City, or within 45 minutes of one of our correctional facilities in New York or New Jersey to participate as a “puppy sitter:”

  • Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
    247 Harris Rd., Bedford Hills, NY 10507
  • Downstate Correctional Facility
    121 Red Schoolhouse Rd, Fishkill, NY 12524
  • Edna Mahan Correctional Facility
    30 County Rd. 513, Clinton, NJ 08809
  • Fishkill Correctional Facility located
    18 Strack Dr., Beacon, NY 12508
  • Otisville Correctional Facility
    57 Sanitorium Ave, Otisville, NY 10963
  • Wallkill Correctional Facility
    50 McKendrick Rd., Wallkill, NY 12589

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Overnight Sitter – taking dogs of all ages into your home overnight to socialize
  • Daytime Sitter – taking dogs of all ages for a few hours to socialize
  • Paws & Reflect – taking dogs to visit with a homebound elderly person for an hour a month (NYC residents only)

Please note the following considerations:

  1. We ask for a four-month/visit commitment. It is important that our prospective volunteers understand that this is a serious commitment to a challenging and, at times, exhausting volunteer program. Since training you and organizing your visits with each prison are quite involved, we ask that you commit to volunteering for us once a month for the next four months. If you find you love it and have more time, we would be thrilled if you wanted to volunteer more than once a month! But, if you do not maintain the monthly commitment, we are sorry, but we will have to make you inactive. We need to be strict with this guideline, so please take this into consideration before committing to the program.
  2. Attend required four-hour training session. Training sessions are held on a Saturday morning, from 11am to 3:00pm. New York City volunteers train at our midtown office; all other New York State volunteers train in Millerton, New York. New Jersey volunteers train in Clinton, New Jersey. At the training, volunteers will learn more about handling the dogs, about the supplies needed, what commands the puppies know, and how to read a dog’s body language, among other valuable tips.
  3. Please note that you must take out a puppy within 30 days of being trained, as we feel this is a safety measure for you and for our dogs. Also for your safety and that of our dogs, you must take a puppy out once per month (for overnight sitters) or twice a month (for day sitters) for four months, in order to remain an active volunteer.

Apply To Be A Volunteer

This program is about training future working dogs, either service dogs for wounded war veterans or explosive detection dogs for law enforcement. Please do not get involved in volunteering only to gauge whether your family is ready for a dog of its own. Our dogs are not pets.

Please note that we do not have a pre-set schedule of upcoming training sessions for the year; trainings are scheduled as needed to train more volunteers to provide socialization outings for our pups. It may take a month or a few months before we announce the next training session.

Again, thank you for your interest. Volunteering as a puppy sitter involves a big commitment and can be challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding! Thank you.