Today at HMP Castle Huntly, together with partners the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and Paws for Progress CIC, we are excited to jointly launch Scotland’s first prison-based assistance dog training programme as part of Dogs for Good’s collaboration with Alzheimer Scotland in the Dementia Dog project.

Through this innovative collaboration, Paws for Progress, aided by their fantastic trained rescue ‘Ambassadogs’, will offer an introductory dog training and care programme for men in custody.

Upon completion of the introductory course, participating students have the opportunity to advance their dog knowledge and handling skills through a variety of ways, including working with the Dementia Dog Project on site to help equip dogs with the skills they need to help somebody living with dementia.

Peter Gorbing, CEO of Dogs for Good can see the far reaching benefits,”This really demonstrates positive social outcomes, both for students at HMP Castle Huntly and people in the community who will benefit from the dementia assistance dogs.”

This pioneering partnership will help boost our training capacity to provide dementia assistance dogs, while also contributing towards the positive rehabilitation of participating students, helping improve communication, team work and emotional management.

Rebecca Leonardi, Director and Founder from Paws for Progress explains, “This inspiring project represents a true win-win-win situation, unleashing the potential of returning citizens to contribute positively to society.”

In partnership with the University of Stirling, Paws for Progress will continue to monitor the rehabilitative outcomes for students in custodial care as the partnership develops over the next few years.

This marks an exciting milestone for the Dementia Dog Project, who will work on site as we embark on our next phase of the project to train and place a further eight dementia assistance dogs in Scotland, thanks to funding from the Life Changes Trust.

Henry Simmons, CEO of Alzheimer Scotland adds,” Its a wonderful example of collaborative working to develop different types of support for people living with dementia.  As the numbers of people developing dementia in Scotland increases there is a clear and urgent need for creative and innovative solutions.”