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BOSCAWEN, N.H. (AP) — Caitlin Hyland’s New Hampshire jail cell looks like those of many of her fellow inmates, featuring family photos, a few books and a cot. But one thing sets it apart: the cage on the floor for a 10-week-old puppy.
Hyland, a 28-year-old from Concord, New Hampshire, who is serving time for a drug conviction, is one of four inmates at the Merrimack County jail who are training puppies. In a partnership between a group called Hero Pups and the jail, two male and two female inmates, who are all in the jail’s drug treatment program, will raise the puppies for the next two months. They will eventually be handed over to military veterans and first responders who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and other challenges.
Chance - Hyland - Chocolate - Labrador - Retriever
“It feels like a second chance,” Hyland said of being chosen to raise the chocolate Labrador retriever mix puppy. She must feed the dog three times a day, walk it every two hours for 20 minutes and is giving it obedience training. The dog stays with her around the clock.
“It’s just amazing to have that unconditional love,” she continued. “I am learning so much about finding the balance. You have to love yourself before you can appreciate the love something else is giving you.”
Justin - Martin - Inmate - Dog - Sense
Justin Martin, another inmate, says his dog has given him a sense of purpose. “Knowing he is going on to help someone else is totally huge for me,” said Martin, 33, of Barnstead, New Hampshire. “With me and my sobriety and recovery, it’s just really a life-changer. He is really changing two lives.” The program is the first of its kind in New Hampshire but mirrors similar programs around the country in which inmates raise and care for animals, typically dogs.
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