(INDIANAPOLIS) – It was an exciting evening at the Indiana Women’s Prison (IWP), full of tears of happiness as 11 Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN) dogs were presented to their ‘forever homes’ after many months of intensive training.
The first tears of joy were shed by the ICAN trainers, each of whom is an offender serving time at the IWP, as they passed the leash to their new families. And each recipient of an ICAN dog expressed everything from ear to ear grins to their own tears of joy for the freedom and peace of mind an ICAN dog will bring to their home.
The ICAN organization has been training assistance dogs since 2003 and December 12th marked the organization’s 30th graduation ceremony. While the IWP has hosted previous ICAN graduation events, this one, with nearly 300 guests in attendance, marked the largest graduation event to date.
Of the 11 ICAN dog graduates, three were named in memory of special people; Thunder, in memory of U.S. Marine Corporal Cary Wynne; Lt. Allan, in memory of fallen Southport Police Officer Lt. Aaron Allan; and Peachy, named in memory of beloved ICAN volunteer, Pat Hall.
Three of the 11 dogs – Paco, Thunder, and Little Dezzie – were “successor dogs”. This means the recipient families formerly had an ICAN service dog that had passed away after years of faithful service. These ICAN clients receive priority placements to ensure the quality of life and companionship provided by an ICAN may continue to be a positive influence to each of these families.
After initial training by male offenders at the Pendleton Correctional Facility and the Correctional Industrial Facility, also in the Pendleton area, the ICAN dogs train for a total of six months with women offender handlers at the IWP before ever meeting their long awaiting partners. The final stage of training runs for two weeks on the IWP grounds as the families receiving an ICAN dog work with the offender handlers to learn the commands and capabilities of their new companions.
Warden Johnson said, “I’m always proud when the staff, volunteers and offenders of IWP work together towards a common goal, it provides a sense of accomplishment and empowers all to be their best”
Guest enjoyed appetizers, cake and punch at the ceremony.
For more information about ICAN, please visit this website.