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Meet the loveable pups born behind bars

HARRY and Haddy may have been born behind bars but the two puppies will offer nothing but freedom to the children they are assigned to.

The two dogs, 15 and 10 weeks old, were born and raised in the Dochas Centre, the female inmate wing of Mountjoy Prison in Dublin.

The dogs were lovingly cared for by female inmates as part of an Irish Prison Service educational venture with the charity, Dogs for the Disabled (DFTD).

DFTD official, Jennifer Dowler, said it was an exciting initiative for the charity.

The identities of all inmates who participate in the project are confidential.

However, the Dochas Centre has housed such high profile Irish female inmates as 'The Black Widow' Catherine Nevin who received a life sentence in 2000 for the murder of her husband, Tom.

At seven weeks, the puppies were taken from the care of the inmates and given to foster families for special training.

crisis

DFTD specialise in dogs for children and adults with mobility issues. Ireland now faces an escalating crisis over the provision of service dogs with charities having closed waiting lists.

Such is the demand for service and assistance dogs that over 1,000 people are now on official Irish charities waiting lists. Some families have to wait five years for a fully trained dog.

Other families were so desperate they opted for private canine training but were hit by some rogue operators who charge €10,000 plus and then only supply poorly or partially trained dogs.

Andrew Geary, whose hearing-impaired son, Calum (5), has a Labradoodle service dog named Gavin, warned that the correct figure for those waiting for dogs probably runs to several thousand. To highlight the crisis, Mr Geary has organised Ireland's first ever service dogs conference.

The 'Service Dogs of Ireland' event, to be staged in Corrin Events Centre in Fermoy, Co Cork on September 13, aims to promote the funding and training of such dogs.

hnews@herald.ie


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