In Depth: Prison puppies - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

In Depth: Anything's Pawsible

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Susan Youngberg can't imagine life without Bali, her black lab. Youngberg has a rare disorder which paralyzed her right arm and both legs.

Bail is the reason why Youngberg can live independently. The dog fetches whatever Youngberg needs -- the phone, a bottle of water from the fridge, and even clothes from the dryer.

Bali came to Youngberg with an uncanny ability to understand 50 commands.

"That tender side and loving side came from the puppy raiser," said the woman.

Bali got that tender, loving care in prison.

Greg Wickman is one of a select few inmates who gets the chance to help raise and train dogs like Bali at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault. The pups will eventually be given to people with disabilities.

"Avery, go get the juice. Get that juice," Wickman said to his latest puppy project. "She brightens my day. She gives me a reason to be happy when I have trouble finding other reasons to be happy."

Wickman ended up in prison after becoming addicted to drugs. He turned to crime to support his habit. This is his third prison trip, but he vows it will be his last time. Now, he is working on his fourth year of sobriety.

Wickman and Avery share a small cell with another dog and three other inmates. "We'll do a lot of training in here so she can get used to being in a home environment," said Wickman.

They're all part of a program called "Anything's Pawsibble," which started out 8 years ago as a way to make unwanted shelter dogs in the Faribault area more adoptable.

The prison also teamed up with Can Do Canines, which matches the specially-trained dogs with people with disabilities.

Inmates earn the right to do this. Those who get picked often go through their own kind of transformation after working with the dogs.

"It's a down payment. I owe a lot of pay back for what I've done in my past," said Wickman.

FOX 9 News witnessed a litter of puppies being brought to the Federal women's prison in Waseca. The dogs are specially bred by Can Do Canines for service. Inmate trainers will spend the next year shaping them for a life of helping others -- just like Bali does for Susan Youngberg.

"She is just a happy dog, loves people, loved me immediately and you can tell that's the way she was raised in prison," said Youngberg.

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