Prison Dogs is a documentary that will make you fall in love from start to finish. The film is set in a rural New York prison in Fishkill, NY, where the inmates there are paired with a golden retriever or lab, for a program called “Puppies Behind Bars.” After a process of evaluation, the chosen inmates are presented with the opportunity to give back to their community by training their puppy for a two year period, where they train them to learn 100 commands which help to combat serious side affects of PTSD. These 100 commands can take anywhere from a day to several weeks to learn by the puppy, and vary from waking the veteran from sleep tourrettes, to cuddling, to properly dialing 911. After the training, the dogs are ready to be paired with a suffering veteran, to give a lifelong feeling of relief, therapy, strength and safety.
To give an example about one of the success stories demonstrated in the film, a female veteran named Tracy who received her puppy was immediately helped with her conditions of PTSD, such as restlessness, claustrophobia, uneasiness in large crowds, social anxiety, etc. once meeting her new friend. The puppy was trained with commands to help combat each stressor for Tracy, and it was moving to see how the inmates were affected emotionally by the reactions of the veterans. The film was very touching and sure does make you want to go to your nearest adoption center!
Overall, to rate this documentary, I would give it an 8. I would watch this film again, and even recommend a friend or family member that I know would be moved in similar ways as myself about the loss, courage and redemption portrayed throughout. However I would have liked to have known more about how the dogs were actually trained and the types of processes that the trainer must go through psychologically with their dog. I would have also liked to have seen more footage on how the dogs have benefitted the veterans, as there was one veteran left out at the end who ended up giving back of the trained dogs. This is a praise for Prison Dogs! They won’t bite.