Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) started in 1997; the program creates opportunities for incarcerated people to live in a special unit and train Labrador retrievers to become service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders, facility dogs for police departments and explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. The puppies enter prison at the age of 8 weeks and live with their incarcerated puppy-raisers for about 24 months. As the puppies mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs, their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it. “There’s never a wrong time, or a wrong place, to build empathy,” says PBB’s website. The program seems to have been transformational for Adam Roberts, who is serving time at Fishkill Correctional Facility in New York. “Each of my dogs has been a teacher. Lee: Stay present, you can choose what you pay attention to. Lexi: Smile and get on with it. Annie has taught me the most. And what I’ve learned is that caring for others is my special purpose,” Roberts said. Roberts is an artist, writer and action, and a puppy-raiser extraordinaire.

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