California Model, Dog News, Rehabilitation

Lee Snyder, from PUPP handler to parole

For Lee Snyder, rehabilitative programs at CDCR and Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) helped him turn his life around. When he arrived at SCC, already 16 years into his sentence, he was introduced to a life-changing program involving puppies. He also found a four-legged best friend.

Prisoners Uniting People and Puppies, better known at PUPP, gave Snyder a unique opportunity.

CDCR offers an array of rehabilitative programs such as education, art, and trades. Snyder was open to change, eagerly learning what he could, taking advantage of the rehabilitation offerings at previous institutions.

When he arrived at SCC in 2017, he quickly dove into the PUPP program. After two years, he made it to secondary handler. His goal was to make it to primary handler, which he achieved in July 2020.

Since starting, Snyder has helped train eight dogs.

“I have taken a vast amount of self-help groups over the last 10 years. I finally found the courage to change my life and lead myself instead of following the collective. The programs have taught me all the tools and skills to succeed not only in prison, but also in society,” Snyder said. “The PUPP program teaches something all the others are unable to. Not only compassion, patience, and selflessness, but most importantly, how to apply them.”

Friends of the Animal Community (FOAC)

The dogs he trains go on to a forever home. They may not have had this chance if not for the Friends of the Animal Community (FOAC) PUPP program for a second chance.

FOAC is the local animal provider, saving over 400 dogs thanks to the SCC program alone. They have provided the PUPP program with dogs, food, supplies, and trainers to give incarcerated participants the tools to train and care for the dogs.

Snyder became very close with Nighthawk, the dog he trained through the COVID-19 pandemic. The two spent plenty of time together, as no one was coming to visit the dogs.

When he paroled in May 2023, Snyder requested to take Nighthawk with him. The Board of Parole Hearings approved the request.

Snyder’s aim is to be a youth guidance counselor. The training and tools he has gathered from his time at SCC has prepared him for this achievement. CDCR, SCC, FOAC, and the PUPP team wish Snyder and Nighthawk the very best.

Story by Lt. Ruben S. Jauregui, AA/PIO
Sierra Conservation Center

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