Astro the pup (FOX5)

Astro the pup (FOX5)

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A Las Vegas group is on a mission to help pups, prisoners and patriots. In fact, that’s the name of their nonprofit.

The group is looking for a few good men (or women): veterans, families of veterans and active service members who may want a therapy dog.

The nonprofit has a group of pups who will be out of prison soon and ready to help.

Astro knows all of his basic commands. But he didn’t learn them from his human. Jennifer Best is part of Pups, Prisoners and Patriots. The group helps all three.

“Some of these dogs come from high kill shelters so they’re afraid of humans,” she said. “They’re afraid of men vs women. They’re afraid of big burly men or the sound of keys walking around.”

Best showed FOX5 video from Lovelock Correctional Center.

“Some of these prisoners haven’t seen a dog in 10-15 years,” she said.

The dogs live behind bars with the prisoners for 13 weeks. The prisoners have to train them.

“So they do everything with them, go to work with them,” Best said. “The prisoners have built a dog park for them so they have their own grassy area and they’re safe.”

Once prisoners train the pups, Best and her team turn to the third ‘P,’ patriots.

“Most of these veterans want a dog that’s going to obey them, but they also want a dog that’s going to love them, that wants to be around them,” she said.

And the four-legged friends aren’t just good for the soul.

“We’re training them to be brace dogs, so we’re training to them to be physically capable of pulling or picking up their veteran,” Best said. “We teach them to retrieve bottles of medication, household items, shoes, keys.”

Best said having a canine companion has its health benefits too.

“A dog makes everyone more calm,” she said. “When you’re with your dog or any dog, your blood pressure lowers, you’re more relaxed.”

Best has seen first-hand how the program has helped everyone heal. The pups get a new lease on life. The prisoners and patriots find new purpose.

“When you’re dealing with someone who has emotional issues, whether it’s the veteran or the prisoner, a dog will help bring some of those things to light,” she said. “It helps the dog, it helps the prisoner, it helps the veteran. We all get something out of it.”

Best takes the dogs into valley schools as well as therapy for students with special needs.

The nonprofit is looking for more fosters to take care of the dogs before they enter the program.

To volunteer or submit a veteran who may need a dog, email: or visit: their Facebook page or website.

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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