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Prisons and Pups: An Examination of Service Dog Training and Their Weekend Families

By Kendra Garcia

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The use of service dogs for people with disabilities has increased in the last few decades. The service dogs come in the form of companion dogs, socialization dogs, medical alert dogs, and dogs for the mobility and hearing impaired. Therapy dogs are also used in clinical settings to ease the tension in hospital, and school settings. Since their use has increased, so has the demand. Training of service dogs can take anywhere from 12-18 months and can cost upwards of $20,000. Organizations have become creative in meeting the needs of their clients and turned to recruiting incarcerated persons in correctional facilities in helping them meet their demands. What is missing from the research is the sociological question of why people volunteer to become weekend puppy raisers. They are asked to give up their weekends to care for a puppy and socialize it in public places. There are many rules that need to be followed to ensure the puppy has positive initial experiences. After the puppy has grown up and is now a service dog, the weekend puppy raiser must say good-bye and may choose to start the process all over again with another dog. The research in this article is to examine why people participate in such programs and what keeps them returning as volunteers. Through qualitative interviews, the findings will support that volunteers in the NEADS organization believe strongly in the organizations’ mission, feel loyalty to members of the community needing assistance and have a strong sense of dog responsibility.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2014
Pages 39
Department Sociology
Degree Departmental Honors
Language English
University Bridgewater State University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Prisons
  3. Service animals
  4. volunteers