GMALL to present program on Puppies Behind Bars May 23

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Gloria Gilbert Stoga working with trainers as part of ‘Puppies Behind Bars.’ (Photo courtesy of Gloria Gilbert Stoga)
Gloria Gilbert Stoga, founder of Puppies Behind Bars. (Photo courtesy of Gloria Gilbert Stoga)

Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning will welcome Gloria Gilbert Stoga, founder of Puppies Behind Bars, to talk about the organization and its mission of training prison inmates to raise working dogs for the world at large.

The talk will take place on Tuesday, May 23, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Manchester Community Library located at 138 Cemetery Ave. in Manchester Center.

Labrador Retriever puppies enter prison when they are eight weeks old and live there for one to two years, being nurtured, loved and trained by incarcerated individuals.

While the nature of the work the dogs do has changed over the years, the goal of the program has not: Men and women serving time in maximum-security prisons can contribute to society from behind bars.

Initially guide dogs for the blind were raised by the incarcerated individuals, then the organization switched to raising service dogs for wounded veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The latest iteration of Puppies Behind Bars’ work is incarcerated individuals raising “facility dogs” for police departments, where the dogs help with officer wellness as well as community relations.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this is that active-duty police officers come into prison for two weeks of training, led directly by the incarcerated “puppy raisers.” Through the dogs, both sides – police and inmates – begin to see beyond the uniforms each is wearing to discover similarities rather than differences in each other.

Registration is $22 per person.

For more information or to register, call 802-867-0111 or visit greenmtnacademy.org.