Prison is no place for a dog, unless that dog is being trained to become a service animal. That’s exactly the case of Joey Correa and service dog, Chase.
Correa is serving time at a Rhode Island prison, but doing good while paying his dues. As a participant in the 13-year-old program, NEADS, inmates train puppies to become loyal service dogs for those in need.
Army Sgt. Austin Burchard was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan when a bullet wound caused the loss of three organs, damage to four different organs, and a 21-month stay in the hospital with 15 surgeries. Knowing he would be wheelchair bound, a dog was about to change his life.
As Sgt. Burchard recovered from a hospital bed, Correa trained Chase behind bars. Chase became Burchard’s service animal, and the duo traveled to say thanks to his trainer in prison.
“This program changed my life because I really didn’t think about animals, dogs, the way that I do now,” Correa told WPRI News.
Correa spent three months training the pup with chores like opening a refrigerator and turning on lights. The program has trained 1,000 dogs. Sgt. Burchard and Chase returned to Florida to bond and share life together.
Watch the emotional reunion below when Correa sees Chase in prison for the first time since training.