© 2016 By Dena Stern.

paws up!

October 3, 2017

my latest personal project is volunteering at an l.a. based animal rescue. i learned about it when friends  adopted a dog from 'karma rescue' and katja encouraged me to get in touch with the karma people in order to support the program with my photography skills. it is one of the most amazing things i know. and i'm super grateful that i got the opportunity to experience this program on site, to come to know that the dogs are bringing joy & positive vibes to prison and especially to being able to tell the inmates' and dogs' stories through my images. please check it out!


"paws for life is a therapeutic program that advances karma rescue’s mission to create a more compassionate society by providing safety, refuge and protection for all animals. what began as a prison-based dog training program in 2014 at california state prison – la county has flourished into a multi-site rehabilitative program with widespread benefits. thanks in large part to a unique partnership with the california department of corrections and rehabilitation (cdcr), the paws for life program has gained momentum and continues to expand – in both program scope and locations throughout california.















the core of pfl is obedience training. carefully selected inmate trainers work with rescued dogs to teach basic commands, behavior and socialization. over 12 weeks, prisoners and dogs prepare for the american kennel club’s canine good citizen (cgc) certification, the gold-standard in canine obedience. there is rarely a dry eye at the graduation ceremonies marking the end of each session as inmates and canines receive their certificates of completion.


paws for life has expanded to include an intensive 52-week training program to ready formerly homeless dogs to serve as specially-trained companions for military veterans coping with ptsd. dogs learn to perform the essential tasks of an assistance animal – aid with sleeping and eating, alerting to danger, coping with stress, managing anger, perceiving anxiety and panic attacks, assisting with mobility, retrieving medications and facilitating social interactions. the ptsd program could be called the deal of the century because traditional ptsd-trained service dogs are in short supply and costly.


paws for life also restores a sense of humanity to the prison setting – a place that houses broken souls. many of the inmates who participate in the program come from troubled backgrounds, and are unable to connect with or express empathy towards others. there are no words to describe the wonder of seeing these tough-exterior prisoners touch one of the program dogs for the first time, and even more phenomenal is to witness the first time they experience the unconditional love only a dog can give."


2 weeks ago i went to the california state prison in lancaster for the first time. they held a graduation ceremony for dogs and inmates. it truly was a very emotional event in every aspect. these are my personal highlights:





































in case you are thinking about adopting one of these dogs - get in touch with karma rescue. if you can't have a dog, but still want to do good - they are always looking for volunteers - there's so many options. thank you for your attention and much love always! diana


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