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Veterans adopt dogs trained by Southern Illinois inmates

VIENNA, Ill. – Inmates at a Southern Illinois corrections facility are training dogs from a shelter and giving them to veterans.

The Southern Illinoisan reports that six dogs graduated Thursday from the 12-week training program at the Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna. The Shawnee Wellness Assistance Therapy Training Program has been up and running for a year.

The correctional center’s program director brings in a new group of inmates every 90 days to work with the animals provided by Project Hop, a local no-kill animal shelter. Dog trainers from outside guide the inmates in their training.

Army National Guard behavioral health office Lt. Nicole Justice says veterans need companionship upon returning home and a well-trained dog is a tremendous gift.

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