ARL Partners with Clarinda Correctional Facility to Train Dogs for Veterans

posted 7/6/2016

UPDATE (June 29, 2016) - The first set of dogs to participate in the six-week training program, sponsored by The Blumenthal Family, have graduated! The dogs started the program at Clarinda Correctional Facility knowing few, if any, skills. Offenders were taught to train the dogs using positive reinforcement techniques, and on June 29 the dogs successfully graduated from the program knowing sit, stay, loose leash walking and more! The graduates will be placed with veterans who can use the comfort of a canine companion.

Original post (May 11, 2016) - Four dogs from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) are starting training to become companions for veterans. Their training program begins at the Clarinda Correctional Facility in Clarinda, IA. Eight offenders will work with the dogs for six weeks training them in basic skills and manners. At the end of the program the dogs will be adopted to veterans.

ARL pet behavior staff have worked with Clarinda Correctional Facility staff and the offenders selected for the program to teach them positive reinforcement techniques that will be used to train the dogs. The dogs will receive daily training and socialization to help them develop into well-mannered companions for the veterans they’ll be placed with. The training program follows the Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S) developed by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

Tom Colvin, Executive Director of the ARL says, “The ARL has seen the benefit of having offenders work with animals through previous partnerships with the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, IA, and North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City, IA, and we are looking forward to our new partnership with Clarinda Correctional Facility. The dogs in this program will receive the training they need to be good canine citizens, the offenders working with the dogs are given the opportunity to make a positive contribution to society, and the veterans the dogs will be adopted to will get a well-mannered companion to comfort them.”

At the end of the program the dogs will “graduate” and return to the ARL to be placed with a veteran, and a new class of dogs will begin.

The program is not funded by tax dollars and relies on private donations. If you would like to donate to the program or help underwrite the adoption cost for a veteran, visit and reference “Clarinda.”

Follow the Animal Rescue League of Iowa on Facebook at or subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter on our website at to hear more about this program and help us celebrate the first class of dog graduates this summer!

View a video clip about the program.