Prison Pup Graduate Providing Companionship to Local Veteran

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A program behind bars is giving inmates the chance to give back to their community. The work being done inside the Clarinda Correctional Facility is providing Iowa veterans with comfort and companionship.

The last time we saw Mollie, the rescue dog had just graduated from the prison pup program.

“Everybody wanted her to stay. She`s the CFF mascot,” said trainer Lucas Walk.

Her mascot status would change and a few months later, she walked out of the facility and into Ronnie Woodruff’s life. But their first meeting didn’t go as planned.

“She wanted nothing to do with me. She avoided me like the plague. Unless I had a treat in my hand,” said Woodruff.

It was short-lived and the next day, Mollie went right up to him and hasn`t left his side or lap since.

“Mollie won't let me out of her sight,” he said, “She's a pretty good companion for me.”

That`s the point of the program between the Animal Rescue League and the prison in Clarinda.

Woodruff enlisted in the Army in 1985 when he was a junior in high school. His nine years of service are full of achievements and commendations from Somalia to Desert Storm.

Right now, Mollie is just what the doctor ordered for Woodruff. He suffered a heart attack in July and his new pup keeps him “active and outside”.

“I'm happier,” said Woodruff, “It's picked me up quite a bit.”

The prison program began in May. Mollie was part of the second class of graduates. Woodruff says he promised to keep give the Clarinda inmates updates on their old mascot.

According to the ARL, all but a few of the dogs in the program have been placed with veterans.