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Department of Corrections dog training program gives inmates purpose

The dogs hold no judgment in their eyes, or do they care about who is taking care of them; they just show the love and contentment you would expect from any dog. The lead dog trainer, Dave Brasche, said all dogs they train are taught the basics: how to sit, stay and heel; just as you would expect from any dog training company. However, this isn't just any dog training company, it is the Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program at Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. "Once you become the alpha then the dog will listen to you. This program works miracles," Brasche said. The program is something that any inmate who is well-behaved can participate in. Lt. Brian Comfort at CTCF said it's one of the best correctional and behavioral programs he's seen. The program allows inmates to work as trainers for rescue dogs, and dogs' owners can bring them to the prison for training. "This program allows offenders to learn new skills, improve self-esteem, and earn a salary that is based on their work performance," said the Colorado Correctional Industries, Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program website. Public information officer for the Colorado Department of Corrections, Lauren Killpatrick said the program is easily one of the more distinctive programs offered at CTCF. "All who work in the program are absolutely great with the dogs," Killpatrick said. Comfort said that a majority of the dogs they get are from shelters and rescues, and the rest are brought to them. "I brought my own dog here for training, and it's amazing what they did," Comfort said. However, the program is not just for the dogs, but is an outlet for the men who train them — the inmates at CTCF. After being sentenced to 80 years in DOC, Brasche said the program is his therapy and his outlet. "It's a great program for me, (because) me, I am doing 80 years, I won't even see parole board for another 20 years, so it really gives me that thing I was looking for," he said. Before, Brasche said he was fighting, he was angry and didn't care about anything when he was first sentenced. But, with the program, Brasche said it's given him a sense of purpose and responsibility. "The sense of responsibility that comes with this is what makes it worth it," he said.