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Nev. Convicts Pay for Puppy Surgery

November 15, 2002

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) _ Socks One, a 9-month-old shepherd mix, is mending at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City after inmates raised money for the dog’s surgery.

The dog was among eight puppies who came to the prison in August in a pilot project sponsored by the state prison system and the Nevada Humane Society.

The Pups Up for Parole program, or PUP, gives selected inmates an opportunity to train young dogs to make them more adoptable.

But after the first week, the dog’s trainer, inmate Kenny Hartwell, noticed Socks One had trouble getting out of his crate.

Hartwell, 54, is serving six to 15 years for burglary and robbery.

``We enter our observations and progress on a daily log that the Humane Society established, and in looking it over I noticed he walked with a limp after he’d get out of his crate,″ Hartwell told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

``The peculiar thing was that it only happened after he’d get up. He’d limp and then in five minutes, he’d just be back to a happy tail-wagging puppy again.″

A veterinary exam showed Socks One had bone spurs in his left front leg, a genetic disorder that requires corrective surgery, said James Baca, associate warden of programs at the prison.

The problem was how to pay for it.

``It came down to putting him down or surgery, so all of us here in the program got together and came up with the money,″ Hartwell said.

The inmates raised all but $100 of the $1,125 needed for the surgery.

NSP Warden Mike Budge threw in the rest.

Sparks veterinarian Steven Petersen performed the arthroscopic surgery Tuesday at a discount. The pup was back with Hartwell that night.

``Now it’s all about recovery,″ Hartwell said. ``As he grows, the bones will grow properly. Now we’ve got to get him a home.″

Not that Hartwell is looking forward to that day.

``It will probably be emotional, especially with him looking up at me with those big puppy eyes of his, but I have to keep my focus,″ he said. ``I trained him so that he can bond with a family.″

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