Video by Adam DeGroot and Kevin Gasser
When tragedy unfolded, the men and women of Paws for Life K9 Rescue did what they always do: They jumped in to help.
In November 2019, a young man opened fire at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, shooting five students and killing two. The community reeling from the violent attack included people incarcerated at California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC), who were eager to assist. Thanks to their hard work and generosity, Mia Tretta, who was injured in the shooting, now has service dog Brandy to assist her as she recovers.
Paws for Life rescues dogs from shelter and takes them to one of three prisons – Mule Creek State Prison, California Medical Facility, and LAC – where incarcerated people train them in basic obedience and socialization. Paws for Life then finds them forever families. Certain dogs are selected for the service dog program, in which they are trained to assist and provide comfort to wounded veterans and people with disabilities.
One such dog is Brandy, who recently met Mia. CDCR’s Division of Rehabilitative Programs was there to capture the moment.
The video is also available on YouTube.
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I’m Alex Tonner and I’m the founder of Paws for Life K9 Rescue.
Today we’re at Lancaster Prison, and we’re here with a young girl who was shot a month ago in the Saugus school shooting.
She’s coming to meet her service dog, Brandy, for the first time.
Mia’s doctor told her parents that she would benefit from having a dog with her, so that’s what we’re doing here today.
We’re going to introduce Mia to Brandy and get to meet Brandy ourselves.
The mission of Paws for Life is to pull dogs from high overpopulated shelters – high-intake shelters – and place them within the prison system throughout Northern and Southern California and train the dogs so they’re turn-key ready for homes.
You know, we’re not just giving dogs to veterans now. We’re actually giving them to first responders and victims of crime – so we’re actually expanding this program on a much bigger deal.
It makes me feel amazing that these animals can help people heal- all around.
I think she’ll really help – especially in the new normal that is nothing like what I used to have.
In the uncomfortable situations that are very different from before, just kind of making it an easier transition.
I mean, you should never judge something by its’ cover. The fact that inmates, or whoever’s training it, doesn’t matter – they’re still doing an amazing thing by being able to give people these kinds of dogs to help them. It’s like a circle of healing, and everyone has a purpose.
It’s not like anyone wants to be in prison, but if you’re going to be here, you might as well do something great – no matter who they are.