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Inmates in Dog Training Program Receive Recognition at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution
By Wyoming Department of Corrections
Published: 09/19/2019

Cheyenne, – On Friday, August 30, inmates from the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington were recognized for their hard work and diligence with the Preparing Adoptable Companion K9’s (PACK) program.

Holly Steinkraus, co-owner of Rockin’E Training and Consulting in Laramie, Wyoming, presented 10 inmate dog-handlers with certificates and commended them for going through a training program equivalent to what certified, private dog trainers would receive on the outside.

PACK is a program that provides the outside community with pre-trained dogs. The canine program at WMCI started in 2014, and the facility has partnered with Black Dog Animal Rescue (BDAR) since 2015. Two hundred and thirty-three canines have been admitted to the program with 216 successfully graduating thus far. Thirty-one inmates have been assigned as handlers since the beginning of the program. PACK benefits not only canines but also teaches the inmate participants responsibility. The program is overseen by WDOC Sergeant Ryan Layle, who uses his canine training experience to monitor and provide guidance throughout the training.

The curriculum used at WMCI was adopted from Colorado Department of Corrections in July of 2015. Handlers are selected through an application and interview process. Handlers are evaluated regarding their techniques and demeanor, as well as adherence to program rules. Canines are evaluated using components of the AKC Canine Good Citizenship Test (although WMCI isn’t authorized to certify the canines).

The training each dog receives covers many aspects. First, the program is an intensive socialization program. The dog learns to be around and greet many people. They live with many other dogs. Basic manners training includes sit to greet a person, sit to go through a door, crate training and house training. Basic obedience includes: sit, sit-stay, down, down-stay, come when called, basic heeling on lead and deal with any problem behaviors the dog has. Many dogs will go on to learn hand signals, or other tricks. WMCI also features confidence building with agility equipment training. Handlers complete initial, weekly, and final assessments to be provided to BDAR and/or the new owner.

Upon successful completion of the training program (6-8 weeks), the canines are returned to BDAR for adoption or placement in a foster home.

Steinkraus is a certified professional trainer, CPDT-KA and has been with Rockin’E since September 2016. She holds a doctorate in Molecular Biology from the University of Wyoming where she manages the microbiology prep room and supervises laboratory sections of General and Medical Microbiology. She is certified by the American Kennel Club (AKC) to evaluate dogs in the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program and is a member of the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) and the PPG (Pet Professional Guild).


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