About Us

Prison Pet Partnership gives incarcerated individuals the opportunity to learn valuable pet care vocational skills to use in finding employment when they resume their lives outside of prison. In addition to training, boarding, and grooming dogs, incarcerated individuals also gain clerical skills by working in our office. To ensure that they receive ample experience in the pet care industry, incarcerated employees are required to spend a minimum of two years with us.

PPP takes in rescue dogs and purpose-bred puppies from other service dog organizations to train and place as service and therapy dogs. Our service dogs are able to respond to the needs of individuals who experience seizures, those who live with various illnesses and disabilities, as well as veterans and first responders living with PTSD by assisting them in their daily activities and giving them increased independence.

According to Assistance Dogs International, the cost of providing high quality training for Service/Seizure Response/Therapy Dogs is approximately $20,000 per animal. It takes approximately two years to train these dogs. Dogs who do not make it as service dogs are trained in basic obedience, which allows them to be placed in the community as companion and family Paroled Pets.

The program is primarily supported by foundations, animal welfare organizations, and by individual donors. Our boarding and grooming service for the local community also provides the program with sustaining funding support.

An active policy making volunteer Board of Directors monitors our programmatic progress in cooperation with the program staff. Approximately 30 volunteers currently assist us by taking the dogs out into the community for important socialization training prior to placement with their recipients. This training includes such things as learning to accompany their recipients into elevators, restaurants, doctor’s offices, grocery stores, and other public facilities.

Studies on the human-animal bond have reached the not surprising conclusion that humans benefit from the unqualified love and acceptance that only animals can provide. Animals need to be loved in return. The shared bond between our dogs, their trainers, and above all, their eventual owners, provides a feeling of satisfaction that directly contributes to the mental and physical wellness of all who are involved.

This is the essence of what Prison Pet Partnership has provided over the years to the incarcerated individuals who work with the dogs, the dogs who are given the chance to lead lives of service, and the individuals with disabilities who receive the well-trained dogs to help increase their level of independence.


Prison Pet Partnership enriches the lives of incarcerated individuals, animals, and the community through the human-animal bond.

Our mission allows us to grow in many directions, using our foundation of rescuing and training animals and providing job skills training to incarcerated individuals. We continue to train and place service, therapy and companion animals. We have boarding and grooming facilities to teach incarcerated individuals job skills, help them write resumes, and practice interviewing skills. Prison Pet Partnership scouts for job opportunities in the community in which system-impacted community member will be released, and provides support through job placement as they transition back into the community.

Core Values

  • We value compassion and respect for people and animals.
  • We value commitment to service.
  • We value education and growth.
  • We value building partnerships in a community.


Prison Pet Partnership, operating within the Washington State criminal justice system, has been a model for the nation in the rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals. It began in 1981 as the result of a collaborative effort between Sister Pauline, a Dominican nun, and the late Dr. Leo Bustad, former chair of Washington State University’s veterinary program, who believed that rehabilitation could be facilitated by the human-animal bond. Sister Pauline and Bustad worked cooperatively with Washington State University, Tacoma Community College, and the Washington State Department of Corrections to create this innovative program within the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW).

Prison Pet Partnership now helps incarcerated individuals at WCCW learn to train, groom and board dogs from within the prison walls. Since its inception, the program has placed over 700 dogs in the Pacific Northwest as Service, Seizure, Therapy Dogs, and in families as Paroled Pets.

In 1986, Prison Pet Partnership was one of the top ten finalists for Innovations in State and Local Government recognized by the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Business at Harvard University.

In 1997, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf came to Prison Pet Partnership to host “What’s Right in America” for NBC. He felt that our program exemplified how the prison system can aid in the rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals while serving the community at large.

International Boarding and Pet Services Association