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Programs and Events 2009

Exchange Visitor Shares his U.S. Experience with Sweden

People sitting in chairs. Dogs on the floor. (Photo Credit: State Dept.)

Inmates taking part in the Puppies behind bars program.

Bringing Prison Dogs to Sweden

Last September, Mr. Christer Hofström of the Swedish National Prison and Probation Center travelled to Washington, DC and surrounding areas on a special project to study how U.S. prisons are using inmates to train dogs as part of a program to benefit both the prisoner and the canine While in Washington, Mr. Hofström learned that in prisons all around the United States, dogs are being trained by the inmates. Some of these programs focus on fostering and saving dogs from local shelters, teaching them basic house manners and obedience skills, and finding them permanent homes. Other programs raise puppies or train shelter dogs who are destined to become service or facility dogs. In either of these cases, the inmates benefit both from the impact of performing the productive work for the community and from the emotional lift of being in the company of dogs day in and day out.

Mr. Hofström’s program in Washington, called the K9 Narcotic Training Program, also focused on tactics used by American law enforcement to address drugs in prison with narcotic detection dogs While in the United States, Mr. Hofström met with narcotic detector dog handlers to discuss training methods and exercises, as well as supervisors and administrators within the United States operating canine search and seizure programs. He also visited prison facilities with canine units focused on narcotic detection.

Mr. Hofström now hopes that this Prison Dog program can be implemented in Sweden and is preparing a proposal to the Swedish National Prison and Probation Center.

Mr. Christer Hofström is a law enforcement certified dog handler currently on leave from the Swedish National Prison and Probation Center. He received his dog handler certification from the Swedish State’s Dog Training Center in Sollefteå as well as from the Swedish National Police Dog Training Center. His trip to Washington was jointly sponsored by the Swedish Narcotics Officers Association and the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm. The program was arranged by the Meridian International Center in Washington, DC.