About Us

Prison Pet Partnership gives inmates the opportunity to learn valuable pet care vocational skills to use in finding employment when they resume their lives outside of prison. In addition to training, boarding, and grooming dogs, inmates also gain clerical skills by working in our office. To ensure that they receive ample experience in the pet care industry, inmate employees are required to spend a minimum of two years with us.

All of the animals in the program are from animal rescue organizations, allowing them to lead lives of service rather than be destroyed. Our service dogs are able to respond to the needs of individuals who experience seizures, those who live with various illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, and those who have multiple disabilities by assisting them in their daily activities and giving them increased independence. According to Assistance Dogs International, the cost of providing high quality training for Service/Seizure Response/Therapy Dogs is approximately $10,000 per animal. It takes approximately eight months to train these dogs, and only one out of every 15 to 20 dogs selected for our program has the intelligence and temperament necessary to become a service or therapy dog. Dogs who do not make it as service dogs are trained in basic obedience, which allows them to be placed in the community as Paroled Pets. Please view our adoptable Paroled Pets at Petfinder.com.

Although part of the agency’s funding support is derived through a contract with the Department of Corrections, the program is primarily supported by foundations, animal welfare organizations, and by individual donors. Our boarding and grooming service for the local community also provides the program with sustaining funding support.

An active policy making volunteer Board of Directors monitors our programmatic progress in cooperation with the program staff. Approximately 30 volunteers currently assist us by taking the dogs out into the community for important socialization training prior to placement with their recipients. This training includes such things as learning to accompany their recipients into elevators, restaurants, doctor’s offices, grocery stores, and other public facilities.

Studies on the human-animal bond have reached the not surprising conclusion that humans benefit from the unqualified love and acceptance that only animals can provide. Animals need to be loved in return. The shared bond between our dogs, their trainers, and above all, their eventual owners, provides a feeling of satisfaction that directly contributes to the mental and physical wellness of all who are involved.

This is the essence of what Prison Pet Partnership has provided over the years to the inmates who work with the dogs, the dogs who are given the chance to lead lives of service, and the individuals with disabilities who receive the well-trained dogs to help increase their level of independence.


Mission

Prison Pet Partnership enriches the lives of inmates, homeless animals and the community through the human-animal bond.

Our mission allows us to grow in many directions, using our foundation of rescuing and training homeless animals and providing job skills training to women inmates. We continue to rescue, train and place service, therapy and companion animals, and also provide animal-assisted therapeutic visits to local convalescent centers, and help students improve reading skills by having dogs listen while children read aloud. We have boarding and grooming facilities to teach women inmates job skills, and we also help inmates write resumes, and practice interviewing skills. Prison Pet Partnership scouts for job opportunities in the community in which an inmate will be released, and provide support through job placement as she transitions back into the community.

Prison Pet Partnership began in 1982 as part of Tacoma Community College’s inmate education program, and became an independent Washington nonprofit corporation on May 30, 1990. We are registered with the IRS as a 501c3.

Prison Pet Partnership’s facility is located on the grounds of the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor, Washington. The program is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The day-to-day operations are the responsibility of an Executive Director, a Training Coordinator, and a Vocational Education Coordinator with support provided by a Program Assistant. Inmate employees support the boarding kennel, the grooming service, and service dog training.

Core Values

  • We value compassion and respect for people and animals.
  • We value commitment to service.
  • We value education and growth.
  • We value building partnerships in a community.

For more information about our organization, view our About Us and History pages.

History

Prison Pet Partnership, operating within the Washington State criminal justice system, has been a model for the nation in the rehabilitation of inmates. It began in 1981 as the result of a collaborative effort between Sister Pauline, a Dominican nun, and the late Dr. Leo Bustad, former chair of Washington State University’s veterinary program, who believed that inmate rehabilitation could be facilitated by the human-animal bond. Sister Pauline and Bustad worked cooperatively with Washington State University, Tacoma Community College, and the Washington State Department of Corrections to create this innovative program within the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW).

Prison Pet Partnership now helps inmates at WCCW learn to train, groom and board dogs from within the prison walls. Since its inception, the program has placed over 700 dogs in the Pacific Northwest as Service, Seizure, Therapy Dogs, and in families as Paroled Pets.

In 1986, Prison Pet Partnership was one of the top ten finalists for Innovations in State and Local Government recognized by the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Business at Harvard University.

In 1997, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf came to Prison Pet Partnership to host “What’s Right in America” for NBC. He felt that our program exemplified how the prison system can aid in the rehabilitation of inmates while serving the community at large.

In the News

Learn more about Prison Pet Partnership by reading past stories below or checking out our past newsletters found at the bottom of this page. Recent stories are featured on our social media, which you can access using the icons to the left.


Our Dog Training Program is Expanding

In addition training service dogs, we are expanding our program to include basic obedience and AKC Canine Good Citizenship certification. This will allow us to rescue and train more dogs from shelters and provide training to privately-owned dogs through our Board and Train program.


Prison Pet Partnership receives a $10,000 Helping Heroes grant from the Petco Foundation

Prison Pet Partnership was awarded a Helping Heroes grant of $10,000 from the Petco Foundation and Natural Balance. We asked for funds to assist us with operating, program and payroll expenses for our Service Dog Program. Thanks to the help of Petco employees in partnership with Natural Balance and customers across the country, this annual campaign raised funds while recognizing and celebrating the impact that service and therapy animals have on the lives of millions of people. Without them, this grant would not have been possible. It will help Prison Pet Partnership further our mission enriching the lives of inmates, homeless animals and the community through the human-animal bond. Thank you Petco Foundation and Natural Balance!


Camille Begins a New Chapter in Life

This month we shed happy tears as we said goodbye to Camille, a trainer and experienced groomer. With the tears, there were lots of hugs, smiles and waves as she walked out the front door of WCCW, released to join her husband and son. Camille left with her adopted PPP cat, Luna, who will help her with the transition back into life outside of prison.

Camille will be missed by her fellow PPP workers and all the dogs who were her regular groom clients. We, however will look forward to hearing about her next chapter and how the skills she gained while at PPP will help her find work quickly in the pet care industry. Without the generosity of many donors, the work we do to enrich the lives of inmates, homeless animals and the community through the human-animal bond and stories like this would not be possible.


Prison Pet Partnership featured in Gig Harbor Living Local Magazine

Prison Pet Partnership was featured in the Life & Community section of September’s issue of Gig Harbor Living Local Magazine. Check out the article on pages 34–36 titled Everyone’s Best Friend — Prison Pet Partnership gives second chances to both dogs and people by Sarah Polyakov.


Life on the lam is over for Indy

After hours of stake outs and posting fliers, Indy, our service-dog-in-training was captured at last! Many thousands of thanks to our volunteers and Gig Harbor residents for all their hard work and efforts! Indy escaped Wednesday from the state women’s prison at Purdy. Officials said the elusive canine was captured Saturday evening and returned to the prison on Sunday morning, much to the relief of Prison Pet Partnership staffers who run the training program. Beth Rivard, who directs the program, said Indy’s movement patterns were tracked Friday and Saturday as he wandered at large near the Gig Harbor area.


Book features Prison Pet Partnership

We are featured in the book “To The Rescue”, which can be purchased at founddogs.com. All proceeds are donated to shelters and animal welfare organizations.


Parker the dog gets juror identification badge

Chad Norris of Vancouver was selected to serve as a juror for a recent criminal trial in Superior Court. Chad, who is confined to a wheelchair, has a service animal. Parker is a five-year old Golden Retriever. Recognizing that Parker would be sitting with Chad on the jury, the Court issued Parker a juror identification badge though he was a non-voting member of the jury panel. Judge Wulle set a good example of providing accommodations not only for Chad but for Parker too, allowing Parker to have water, food and “restroom” breaks as needed, according to Tim McVicker, the county’s Americans with Disability Act compliance program coordinator. “Clark County continues to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities so they can more fully participate in county services, programs and activities,” Tim says. “Although issuing a juror button to Parker was not required, the Court believed it helped Chad feel more welcomed and accepted as a valued member of the community and legal system.” Parker was trained as a service animal at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Purdy, WA, as part of Prison Pets Partnership. Chad has been actively involved in that program since 1996 and Parker is his second service animal. If you have any questions regarding the Americans with Disability Act, service animals or the county’s responsibilities under the ADA, please contact Risk Management at ext. 4924.


Community contest winner provides new logo to local non-profit

Lynn Stevenson won the Prison Pet Partnership logo contest and is replacing the program logo with a new more sophisticated look

To become more connected with their community and to change the look of their logo, Prison Pet Partnership ran a logo contest the end of 2008 through the beginning of 2009. Lynn Stevenson was declared the winner of the contest with her modern logo using imagery of diversity and partnerships.

Prison Pet Partnership started promoting its logo contest to the community in the fall of 2008. The contest was open to people of all ages as a way to not only develop a new logo, but to give the community an opportunity to become a part of the organization and to get to know the organization better. There were over a dozen entries that came from students at several schools in the Puget Sound area, from professional graphic designers and from graphic designers at heart.

In early April 2009, Lynn Stevenson’s design was selected as the winner of the logo contest. Her use of different P’s in the design projects diversity and the program’s three parts of its mission—rescue and trains homeless dogs, provide service dogs for persons with disabilities, operates a boarding and grooming facility to provide vocational education for women inmates. The new logo subtly displays prison bars to emphasize the importance of PPP’s partnership and with the Washington Correctional Center for Women. It also displays a dog paw within the bars to emphasize the organization’s focus on using shelter dogs. The sophisticated font gives the new logo professional look.

Prison Pet Partnership thanks Lynn Stevenson for her hard work and design and for helping her community. As the contest winner, Lynn will receive public recognition, an invitation to Prison Pet Partnership’s Bark and Bid Auction, a shirt with the new design and a gift certificate for Prison Pet Partnership boarding and grooming services.


We are considered one of the top three kennels in the Puget Sound area

Dirty facilities, cramped spaces, and mediocre attention to pets are just some of the findings in a recent customer survey of local kennels. Based on the survey results, you’d be wise to start shopping around long before you need board your pet. Local Consumers CHECKBOOK magazine subscribers rated 36 kennels for cleanliness, spaciousness, affection toward the animals, pick-up and drop-off arrangements and overall quality. On the plus side, most local kennels make a concerted effort to provide quality care.


Assistance Dogs International International Boarding and Pet Services Association