It was Monday 11/07-16 and the last chance to see the documentary Prison Dogs at the Hawaiian International film festival. This emotional appealing masterpiece is directed and produced by Geeta Grandbhir and Perri peltz.
According to the HIFF synopsis the movie is a story of Love, loss, hope and redemption. The movie is just that. The producers have managed to fully document the journey of a puppy that becomes a fully functional service dog trained by prisoners at the Fishkill State Correctional facility. This adventure is filled with intriguing stories from several inmates, disabled combat veterans and leaders of the program.
The journey is far from easy for any of the parts involved. The dogs have to meet a high standard, so does the prison inmates training them. The leaders of the program have a huge responsibility to ensure prisoners are doing what’s expected of them, but in the end it’s really a journey to improve someone’s life. Ultimately the movie shows how relationships between humans and animals can make a disabled combat veteran get the life-spark back.
After the movie there was held a Q&A. The director could share with us the fact that training a service dog outside the prison could cost up to $30,000. In other words the job that the inmates are doing is extremely valuable. The movie however shows that the value given to booth inmates and veterans as due to the dogs could never have been measured in hard currency.
A man in the audience said that to him, “The star of the movie was the marine drilled instructor that was cleverly disguised as a woman, an that she was a master of administration and leadership.” He is talking about the leader of the whole program, Gloria. Gloria had a huge part of the film where she took care of the service dogs program and made sure that all parts of the program was functioning as they should. She is also the president and founder of the program.
A woman in the audience asked. “How are the veterans selected for the program?” The director answered: “The veterans [like the prisoners] also have to go through a screening process.” They are trying to make sure the PST dogs are used for the right disabled veteran or other peoples with disabilities. In the movie there was a scene where Gloria was uncertain weather or not they were given away a dog to a man that really needed it. the audience was happy to learn that by the end of the movie that man was in fact in need for a dog.
According to the Director the movie was filmed over a two year time period. As far as she knows the inmates that are being put out of the Service dog trainee program are not given a second chance to re enter. The director finished her Q&A with an announcement. The movie Prison Dogs are now available on Amazon and ITunes, and that she highly recommend a visit to the puppysbehindbars.com website to learn more.