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Kids In Juvenile Corrections Learn Hands-On Care With Animals

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Young adults in juvenile corrections are learning to train and care for animals. The Humane Society of the Black Hills bring in critters from geckoes to puppies to give detainees some hands-on experience. 

 

A litter of bright eyed, chubby husky puppies are being bathed in neon kitty pools. Some whine as smiling young men in green uniforms lather them in soap then pass them off to peers for a towel dry. 

 

Employees from the Humane Society of the Black Hills stop by once a week with different animals. They teach state, federal and international detainees at Western South Dakota Juvenile Services Center tricks of the trade. 

 

“Why do we socialize puppies?”

“So they can learn.” 

“Learn What?” 

“Yep. They have to learn what’s appropriate and what’s not. How to play, they need to get corrected." 

 

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After the baths, detainees play tug-of-war and throw squeaky toys for the puppies.  

 

One young adult grins as he cradles a mass of fur like a baby in his arms. He says this is the first time he’s held a husky. We aren't using the young man’s name for privacy. 

 

“They’re kind of cool. They’re plenty huge. They’re fluffy and they shed a lot. But they’re good dogs though. They can outstand the cold because they’ve got two layers of coats. They’re good for sledding and stuff like that.” 

 

Before the puppies are taken back to the humane society for adoption, the young men are asked to name each one. 

 

“Ruby and Max. This is Ruby and this is Max. They have to get adopted together though.” 

Joe Guttierez is the Commander of the Juvenile Services Center. He says this is an incentive based program for kids with good behavior.

 

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“By working with the animals they learn responsibility and they learn trust and also empathy because these dogs are going to be adopted and they don’t have owners right now. Some of our kids are going through some struggles as well and they’re hoping that someone takes a chance on them too as well when they leave.”

Guttierez says detainees feel a sense of accomplishment when the animals they meet get adopted into new homes.