HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — It's graduation day for three veteran service dogs trained by incarcerated military veterans at a state prison near Hagerstown.
The retrievers graduate Thursday at the Maryland Correctional Institution. They are the first to complete 14 months of training by inmates before going on to finishing school.
Each dog eventually will be teamed with a disabled veteran in a program run by America's VetDogs of Smithtown, N.Y.
Other incarcerated veterans are training dogs at Western Correctional Institution near Cumberland and Eastern Correctional Institution near Westover.
Researchers say the rigid schedule of a prison environment helps the dogs master basic tasks such as working light switches and opening doors.
Prison officials say the inmates who worked with the dogs will be given new puppies to train.