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Florida Prisoners, Non-Profit Train Service Dogs

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Prisoners in South Florida are helping pups prepare to service those in need while also helping themselves along the way.

According to our news partners The Miami Herald, the non-profit called New Horizons Service Dogs, Inc. has partnered with local facilities including the South Florida Reception Center in Doral and the Homestead Correctional Institution in Florida City, along with others.

As part of the program, inmates spend four to six months training the dogs to serve people with various conditions like children with autism, amputees and veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The program places 45 dogs a year with Floridians, most of which have undergone training at the prison.

While the program is meant  for those who need a service dog, it also helps the inmates.

Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jessica Cary told the paper the programs help the inmates improve their employability.

The dogs also help prisoners cope.

"It gets them out from focusing on themselves to getting the dog out and doing the work," New Horizons Service Dogs trainer Patty Armfield told the paper. "When they do that, they can start to empathize and start to heal."

After about two years of training the dogs make their way to the home and the person they are meant to service.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)


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