NY graduates 5 canines from prison program for service dogs

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – New York state corrections officials say five Labrador retrievers have graduated from training at Otisville Correctional Facility to be service dogs for wounded military veterans.

The privately funded organization Puppies Behind Bars, which pays training expenses, began operating at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester in 1997 and has since expanded to include inmates at the Otisville, Downstate and Fishkill state prisons.

According to the corrections department, puppies arrive at Otisville at eight weeks old and stay until two years old, living with and attending programs with the inmates raising them.

They are taught more than 90 commands, some designed to help mitigate post-traumatic stress disorder.

The five veterans who received dogs included wounded men and women who have served 18 tours altogether in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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