Inmates at New York correctional facility helping train therapy dogs for veterans with PTSD

Posted at 12:19 PM, Aug 11, 2021

LOCKPORT, N.Y. — Inmates at a New York correctional facility are helping train therapy dogs for veterans with PTSD.

Western New York Heroes and the Niagara County Sheriff's Department have partnered to bring the "Pawsitive for Heroes" program to the Niagara County Correctional Facility.

The program sponsors the training of therapy dogs, which are then trained in obedience and calming techniques and overall demeanor to assist veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For the first time in New York State, these dogs will now be training inside correctional facilities.

The three dogs selected have been paired with inmates (who were screened and chosen by the jail staff) to live with and train with for the entirety of the 10-month long training process.

At that point, the dogs will be sent to veterans in need.

"We're really happy about it. You can see changes - and it's only been four days," said Officer Bryan Woodburn, the officer who has overseen the beginnings of the training.

The jail staff has been optimistic that the program helps veterans struggling with PTSD and helps in the rehabilitation of its inmates.

Henry Stovall, Michael Kornaker, and Lionel "Skip" Carter all expressed their passion and joy with the program - and how it impacts them.

“I’m excited that he'll hopefully go to a good home. To a good cause. It’s for a vet, said Stovall.

The dogs have already begun their training program and will be stationed at the Niagara County Correctional Facility until they pass - expected around June 2022.

The inmates are hoping to make a difference even behind bars.

“We're here serving a purpose. Training the dog is serving our purpose. And eventually, she's gonna end up serving a purpose also," said Kornaker.

Ryan Arbogast at WKBW first reported this story.