CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — It was graduation day Wednesday for some pups — the end of a 12-week training program which rehabilitates shelter dogs and prisoners — and gives back to veterans in need.

Inside the Camden County Correctional Facility, a dozen prisoners have been working with shelter dogs. Each dog that was trained was a rescue.

“I put my heart, mind and soul into this program,” said Darren Hardison, an inmate for three months. “We wake up depressed, and, you know, missing our family, missing our loved ones, but then when you turn over and you see Dutchess just standing there, you know, wanting you to pet her, it really helps a lot.”

The inmates train the pups for about four hours a day, and then give them over to a veteran to adopt, like Retired Army Sgt. Arthur Wimberley, who has a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for combat in the Vietnam War.

“Depression is one of those things that just comes about. It comes with PTSD and things of that nature,” Wimberly said, “but this give me some more to do, another reason to get up.”

Wimberly added, “It’s going to help me when I’m thinking about my condition, not being able to move, thinking about, I guess, anything not good. I think the dog will change the frame of mind.

Hardison will say goodbye to Dutchess.

“I really got attached to Dutchess, and when she leaves, it’s really going to hurt, bad,” he said. “But it’s helping our community, it’s helping our veterans who fought for our country, so that brings joy to my heart, it really does.”

Hardison said he really got attached to Dutchess.

“When Dutchess first came here she was scared, so she helped comfort me and I helped comfort her,” he said.


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