Inmates at a medium-security correctional facility in Maryland have been training 24 Labrador retrievers through America's VetDogs, a program that provides disabled veterans and wounded soldiers with service animals, The Baltimore Sun reported.
According to the news source, the inmates take care of the dogs for a year and work with a specialized dog trainer once a week in order to teach their dogs approximately 30 commands, such as picking up canes and opening cabinets.
"The VetDogs program was created so that America's veterans would have the opportunity and the chance to live with pride and self-reliance once again," the organization's website states.
In addition to service animals, America's VetDogs also provides guide dogs to veterans who are visually impaired.
The unlikely partnership between the veterans organization and the state correctional facility has not only fostered a strong connection between former servicemembers and inmates, but also between the inmates and their four-legged trainees. The news source reported that the dogs sleep and eat with the inmates, helping them pass the time of their prison sentences and instilling them with a new sense of purpose. One inmate told the news outlet that his Labrador became his "child."