JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is considering expanding its "Puppies for Parole" Program to include veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Currently, the program involves inmates who train dogs taken from humane societies. Inmates work to make dogs more sociable and well behaved, therefore more likely to be adopted. Almost 2,300 dogs have been adopted since 2010.
"If we could have these inmates, who some of them have never made a connection with another living thing in their lives, learned compassion, and have learned discipline, and have learned unconditional love...we could hook them up to do something for our Missouri veterans," said Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles.
Conway has been involved with the program for the past nine months but was introduced to retired marine Dave McArthur a few weeks ago. He shared with her how his dog Delilah "saved not only his life but his family, and got him back to a relatively normal ability to function," according to Conway.
McArthur served in the marines from 2008 until he was medically retired in 2012 due to a traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
"With what I have seen with other veterans and their dogs I know it will help." McArthur said. "There's a lot of veterans that don't have family. You know I am blessed to have a wife and two kids and close family in the area, but there's a lot of veterans that don't have that. So that dog is their family."
The extension of the program would not need a bill "because the object is to not cost the state of Missouri anything," Conway explained.
Two informational hearings were held Tuesday. Conway told KOMU 8 News, the director of the Puppies for Parole program, George Lombardi, will meet with key players in Missouri on April 18, 2014.