Here is a little history about the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) Joys of Living Assistance Dogs (JLAD) Service dog Program. EOCI started the program in 2016, after almost a year of planning. Approximately 70 percent of the dogs graduate from the program, which is above the national average. The training program started with 16 puppies and has expanded to 32 dogs. Only 16 dogs are trained at any given time, as the dogs are rotated in and out every week.
At the start of the program, 36 commands were being used to teach the dogs. Today, there are over 90 commands used. In addition, some dogs are trained in advanced tasks specific to a recipient’s disabilities – for example, dogs are trained to assist with anxiety, PTSD, and Parkinson’s Disease just to name a few. The average time it takes to train a dog as a service animal is two years. At EOCI, a dog can be trained in just over a year, cutting the time in half.
EOCI has also been participating in the JLAD Whelping Program; a birthing program that is part of the JLAD Service Dog Program. Currently, there are 16 puppies that are part of the Whelping Program. Half of the new puppies will be going to South Fork Forest Camp to start up a new JLAD service dog program in mid-October.
This month, EOCI will have a Passing of the Leash and JLAD graduation ceremony where the adult in custody (AIC) presents the dog they worked so hard to train to the new recipient. During the ceremony, 11 AICs will receive a certificate for the training they have completed.
There is a waiting list for the service dogs coming out of EOCI, because they have a wonderful reputation for being so well-trained. It’s exciting to see the next generation of dogs going out and making a difference in someone’s life. The impact of this program is life-changing.