Puppies Behind Bars' Mission and History

It's all about the dogs and a network of incredible people

Twenty-five years ago, when Puppies Behind Bars was still an unnamed dream, its founder, Gloria Gilbert Stoga, could not have imagined the impact it would have across America. Or that it would pivot again and again in response to seismic changes in the world—terrorist attacks, wars, pandemic—all while remaining true to its core principles.

Through all the changes, the guiding philosophy of Puppies Behind Bars has been that it is all about the dogs.  The women and men who are incarcerated have been asked to put puppies at the center of their lives and commit to producing the best working dogs in the country.  Year after year, dog after dog, they have delivered.

Puppies Behind Bars is ultimately about dogs and people.  It’s a small organization — the dedicated staff numbers less than fifteen — but it punches above its weight because of the wide variety of stakeholders who are critical to success. To the staff and the incarcerated individuals who train the dogs, add PBB’s volunteers, donors, veterinarians, police and military professionals, veterans, friends who go to amazing lengths when problems need to be solved, corrections department officials and officers, and board members.

PBB makes a difference

Since 1997, Puppies Behind Bars has meant a lot of different things – to a lot of different people. Perhaps the impact is best described by those who give to, and receive from, the organization every day. Read some of their letters…

PBB Timeline

October 1997

First PBB class in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York

September 1998

Opened in Fishkill Correctional Facility, New York

August 1999

First guide dog, Lucie, graduated

April 2001

Opened in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, New Jersey

September 2001

Hired our first "puppy raiser" to work in our New York office

May 2002

PBB started raising explosive-detection canines (EDC's)

January 2006

Opened in the Otisville Correctional Facility, New York

April 2006

Stopped raising guide dogs and started raising service dogs

June 2006

Started Dog Tags®: Service Dogs For Those Who've Served US®, and Paws and Reflect®, our homebound elderly visitation program in New York City

February 2008

First service dog paired with Iraq war veteran

April 2012

Zoe inducted into the United States Army as Sergeant First Class and deployed to Afghanistan as therapy dog

February 2013

Dogs started weekly visits to Manhattan District Attorney's office to comfort victims of abuse

May 2015

Scaife Family Foundation Early Socialization Center opened

January 2017

Opened in the Wallkill Correctional Facility, New York

May 2018

First Backup Buddy® service dogs paired with first responders

August 2019

First dog placed with Officer Wellness Program Coordinator in Groton, CT Police Department as a Facility Dog

March-June 2020

PBB provided relief to medical professionals and National Guard service women and men during the height of the COVID pandemic in NYC

August 2021

Bedford Hills team training brought together puppy raisers and police officers in prison for two weeks

January 2022

Ten PBB dogs provided comfort at slain NYPD Officers funerals at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC

Make a Donation

Puppies Behind Bars is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, tax I.D. #13-3969389, and donations are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law.

You may make a one-time donation in any amount you wish, or sign up for recurring gifts on a schedule that works for you.

For gifts in honor or in memory of someone:

If your donation is made in someone’s memory or honor, we will send a card to the designated recipient(s) acknowledging your generous donation on their behalf.

Please include the recipient’s mailing address on the online form. You can view an example of one of our cards here.

Prefer to donate a different way?

PBB offers many ways for you support our mission, including by phone and mail, and with memorial and matching gifts.

Click here to find one that works for you!

PBB Milestones & Highlights

October 1997

First PBB class in the Bedford Hills women's prison, New York

September 1998

Opened in Fishkill men's prison, New York

August 1999

First guide dog, Lucie, graduated

April 2001

Opened in the Edna Mahan women's prison in Clinton, New Jersey

In Memory of Barbara Gladstone

Adopting Albee, and then Noonan, changed Barbara Gladstone's life. And she, in turn, changed ours. The pain in our hearts upon her death is too deep to fathom.