Paws of Hope Program: Healing Hearts Behind Bars

At Wiley’s Wish Animal Rescue, we believe in the transformative power of second chances and we take our mission to another level with our prison training programs.

Wiley’s Wish Paws of Hope program is currently in two prisons in California Paws & Stripes in Soledad State Prison Inmate Program and Second Chance Program in Pleasant Valley State Prison.

Stripes and Paws was Wiley’s Wish’s original prison program. We began in March 2023, when we launched a dog training program in the Nation’s First Veterans Hub prison. Paws & Stripes in Soledad State Prison Inmate Program is sponsored by the Veteran’s Transition Center. The Veteran Hub has a minimum of 45 residents in the program. Since the prison program began,approximately 73 dogs have been rescued, trained and adopted into furever homes.

They save each other: when incarcerated veterans, men and women live with and train rescued dogs.

Our dogs are primarily pulled from shelters that euthanize animals when they are not adopted. There are currently between 15 to 20 dogs in each program.

Samantha Brinegar is our Program Director and Vice President. She is an AKC-certified trainer and our lead K9 Trainer and behaviorist. She trains the residents to train the dogs. She is responsible for the day-to-day items with the dog handlers and their dogs.

Individuals who qualify for the program train the dogs. They are responsible for their dog twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All dogs in the Paws and Stripes training program are paired with two veterans who are part of the Correctional Training Facility Veteran’s hub. There are 45 residents in that program. The residents in our other program are paired one-on-one with a dog and consist of 10 to 14 selected individuals.

The dogs go through the American Kennel Club, AKC, Canine Good Citizens, CGC, course. If a dog demonstrations promise the ability to be trained as a service dog during the evaluation period, the dog will advance into that class. The training program takes three months for the dogs to obtain their AKA CGC. The dogs that advance to service dog training train for an additional three months. These training sessions are conducted bi-weekly and or weekly. To graduate from the program, the dogs are asked to demonstrate good composure and the 10 obedience tasks as outlined in the (AKC) Canine Good Citizen program.

All service dog-trained dogs will be eligible for veterans or first responders. There are also special cases that may be eligible for a service dog. We partner with programs such as A Bridge to Change and Honor Guard Coffee which make it possible to provide dogs to Veterans and/or First Responders free of adoption fees.

All dogs that graduate with CGC qualification skills are available for adoption from anyone.

Wiley’s Wish provides dog food, treats, crates, toys, and any necessary medication and/or medical treatment the dogs might need during their stay.

Our program offers a second chance for the individuals and the dogs. The dogs offer emotional support and teach the guys responsibility, respect, humility, love, compassion, and skills. During this time, some of the individuals work on their Associate of Arts Degree in Canine Behaviors through the University of Denver under Samantha’s credentials. All of the participating individuals learn valuable skills that are marketable for employment in the community when released from prison. Some of the individuals who have participated in our dog training program progress to obtain various jobs working with animals.

If you are interested in a dog in one of our training programs, please submit an application. When your application is approved, we will continue to communicate the dog's status and progress in the program.

If you have any questions, please reach out to our trainer directly at [email protected]