Offenders build doghouses for pups in Manitoba

Submitted by Kim Ezzard, Social Programs Officer, Stony Mountain Institution

Through the CORCAN Operations Division, CSC offenders can learn a variety of useful skills to help them in their reintegration into society. Offenders at the minimum-security unit of Stony Mountain Institution have recently put their skills to the test by participating in a course called Introduction to Residential Construction. This course provides offenders with specialized training in the increasingly technical field of building science.

For the second year in a row, Social Programs Officer, Kim Ezzard, has worked with CORCAN Vocational Instructor, Peter Bzovey, on a project that allows offenders to use their skills to help animals in need. This project has taught the offenders to use their construction and logistical skills to build doghouses for rescued animals.

CORCAN fully supported this project and supplied all the materials needed to build the doghouses. In 2019, nine doghouses were completed and donated to the Manitoba Animal Alliance rescue.  Manitoba Animal Alliance is an organization that provides many services to northern and remote communities in Manitoba.

While constructing these doghouses last year, offenders faced some challenges. The original design of the doghouses did not allow them to come apart for easy transportation. This was an important problem to tackle, as typically, when the organization is travelling to northern communities, they bring large amounts of food and medical supplies in addition to the doghouses. 

The team recognized the need to make them more compact for delivery and travel and they worked hard to develop solutions. The design was adjusted so that they could be assembled and dissembled easily. For instance, the doghouses were made from one single sheet of plywood, which was cut in a way so that a single sheet would make the entire doghouse. Shingles were also needed to make the doghouses waterproof. The doghouses were manufactured so that the shingles could be added after they were delivered. Furthermore, when putting the doghouses together, all of pieces were interchangeable.

In February 2020, Debra Vanderkerkhove and Kirsten Kotowich from Manitoba Animal Alliance came to pick up the doghouses. They brought along Trapper and Ripley, two rescued dogs who were happy to test out the new houses and meet the students who built them.

“We are very excited to offer extra care items to people who are adopting and rescuing dogs, or just for dogs that don’t have a home",  Kirsten said.  “This is such a great incentive for anyone that needs a doghouse of their own or for rescued dogs to stay warmer in the winter”.

The new doghouse design allowed them to be transported unassembled, which was helpful for the organization as they were easier to load and unload. They also took up less room. Kirsten also added, “It’s really a way for us to be able to help out pet owners in the community where they may be lacking certain resources to meet those minimum standards of care."

The offenders involved in this project expressed a great sense of pride in what they accomplished.  Many of them had little previous experience with woodworking, measuring, cutting, and sanding. Through this project, offenders were given the opportunity to learn these skills and help a good cause.

A big thank you to CORCAN for supporting this important project for the second year in a row!

For any inquiries or information on Manitoba Animal Alliance, please see their new website

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