Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN)

Service Dog, Diabetic Alert, Autism Assistance, Facility Dog

Goldens, Labs

Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN)

Indianapolis Metro Area, Indiana University - Bloomington

Current Locations

Within 2 hours of Zionsville, IN

Restrictions

The organization provides:

  • Harness 

  • Leash

  • Food 

  • Preventatives 

  • Vet Care 


Raisers pay for:

  • Crate

  • Toys 

  • High-Value Treats

  • Bowls 

  • Vest (rent for $40) 


ICAN at IU, the student organization in Bloomington, fundraises for themselves and purchases those crates, bones, etc. for students on campus to borrow during the time they have the dog.


Supplies & Financial 

Assistance

  • Puppy raisers (8-16 weeks old) are responsible specifically for environmental exposure, house manners, crate training, and potty training. They begin working on other service dog behaviors as well (calm greetings, LLW, etc.). Recently, they have been allowed to begin training some of the basic level cues as well, specifically the puppy’s name, sit, down, touch, shake, come, and den (crate).

  • Furlough Volunteers, who work with dogs from 6 months – 2 years old on rotation (for 3 week periods) do not train any cues, but reinforce the “Level 1” cues they already know and reinforce appropriate behavior in public settings. The goal is for them to accompany them everywhere and report back to ICAN behaviors that need adjustment in the public and home settings.

Training Responsibilities

To begin volunteering, furloughers and puppy raisers both need to attend an 8 week, weekly training course for a total of 16 hours. There are various online learning modules that volunteers will complete on their own time. Upon completion of those modules, there will be multiple hands-on in-person training sessions.

Process

  • For continuing education: Furlough Volunteers are asked to attend a minimum of an additional 12 hours of training per year (6 meetings, 2 hours each). We offer a 2 hour training meeting (mixture of hands-on (when we can be in person) and book-work on Zoom) at various locations at least once per month. These are requirements to remain active and eligible to furlough each year.

  • Puppy Raisers actively with a puppy (8-16 weeks old) are required to attend weekly puppy classes that are 2 hours long in addition to a second hour-long one-on-one meeting with our Puppy Coordinator for more puppy-specific questions.

Time Commitment

ICAN considers “Formal Training” to begin at 4 months old when the dog heads to one of our three correctional facilities for the first time. At the completion of the 8 week puppy raising, a volunteer will drop off their puppy at one of these three pre-assigned facilities. If a transport is needed,  there is a Volunteer Transport Team that can help with that.


There is a 4 month old Walk and Talk Evaluation, partly to provide feedback and advice to volunteers as they move forward with future puppies, partly to evaluate the puppy’s temperament and skills moving into training, and partly to celebrate all the team has accomplished together so far (so they get to “show off” all of the things their puppy has learned so far!).


The puppy raiser gets the opportunity to take the puppy back for a future furlough (usually their first or second, depending on their schedule) after 6 (or 15 weeks if they are unable to the first furlough). At the time of that furlough, the inmate trainer does write a report to the volunteer sharing what cues the dog has learned and knows, the behaviors to work on, etc. The volunteer spends 3 weeks with the dog, and then sends the dog back with a report for the handler in prison to learn more about how that furlough went. 


Throughout the dog’s 2 years of training, the puppy raiser can keep track of how their puppy is doing at meetings, on social media with other volunteers, etc.


All volunteers that work with the dog are informed of their placement or release. 

Matriculation

For graduation, ICAN used to have the unique opportunity for the general public, sponsors, and volunteers to enter the maximum security women’s prison for a 200+ people graduation ceremony. The men inmates would live stream in, and the women would lead a ceremony sharing about the client, what it’s meant to them to train the dog, etc. and then pass the leash and vest to the client across the stage. All furloughers who had a role in one of the graduating dogs’ training were asked to stand up for applause. There was time before and after the ceremony to eat a graduation cake or snacks and interact with the clients and inmate handlers. Sadly because of COVID, this has not been done since December 2019 and ICAN is unsure if they will be able to again in the near future.


Volunteers often run into clients at our fundraising events and such, and many clients do ask for contact information for volunteers who either puppy raised or have a strong furlough connection with their dog. Many times they ask the volunteers to babysit for vacations and such if the dog is not traveling with them, as everyone lives pretty local.

Graduation

ICAN has a double mission in providing life skills to the inmate handlers who train them. Volunteers only have the dogs/puppies for short periods of time, and the training is primarily all done by inmates.

Puppy Raisers start the puppies from 8-16 weeks. Furlough Volunteers take the dogs into the community for 3 weeks at a time, on average. The dogs are primarily trained in three local prisons, and are on a 6-weeks-in, 3-weeks-out rotation. We ask volunteers take at least 3 furloughs per year (9 week commitment) but many of them have dogs pretty much non-stop (turn one in, get another same day).

Uniqueness

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