(ABC4 News – Utah State Prison) I met Hank at the Utah State Prison. You read that right, The Timpanogos Woman’s Prison to be exact. He was introduced to me by not one, but three inmates. Sawwan told me; “Hank is like 10 months. When he first came he was all over the place. I’ve got marks everywhere because he was jumping and biting …mouthing. Active. Had no behavior skills and he learned very quickly.”
Did I mention that Hank is a dog? A real dog. Hank is part of program called “Canines with a Cause.” The program is centered around second changes.
Brianne said; “None of us came here because we did something good. For me this is a way to not only learn a new skill, but on some level to make indirect amends.”
Mallory Geniusz is Utah Prison Program Director for Canines with a Cause. She explained the program; “In order to join our program to be a dog handler, the offender actually has to be referred. We don’t take open applications. So, that means they have to be on good behavior. They have to be on appropriate level. Get referred by their correctional officers. “
The program is having an impact on inmates. She put it this way; “Being able to have that patience, that self-awareness and that mindfulness of what am I doing that is affecting my dog kind of translates to what am I doing that is affecting other people.”
The third inmate I visited with was Molly. She told me; “I know that the time that I’m here, I get to do something wonderful. I hope in a way that helps for me to find that peace that for what I’ve done. This program is wonderful. I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
Sawsan explained; “It brought out the nurturing part that I took away and put away and put deep inside. It helped me cope with my own problem and my own issues.”
After leaving the prison, dogs like Hank, help Veterans with P.T.S.D. a second chance as well. That fact isn’t lost on the inmates. Brianne said; “We know that when that dog leaves they are going to impact somebody’s life in a positive way and we get to have a part of that.
These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.
TO SEE MORE UTAH CARING STORIES AND TO NOMINATE A PERSON OR GROUP MAKING A DIFFERENCE GO TO ABC4.COM/CARING.