July 6, 2023 — Los Angeles Daily News
Twin Towers Correctional Facility held a congratulatory event on Thursday, July 6, in honor of a yellow Labrador retriever that has spent the past year in the care of a sheriff’s department custody assistant and regularly visited with inmates as part of the pup’s training with Guide Dogs of America.
The dog, Gretel, was teamed up over the past 14 months with her foster “puppy raiser,” Custody Assistant Deanna Valenzuela, a 17-year Sheriff’s Department veteran.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, Gretel will officially leave Valenzuela’s care on July 15 and return to Guide Dogs of America for her formal training as a guide or service dog. Valenzuela has been working with Gretel since April 8, 2022.
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Valenzuela “has assisted Gretel in achieving many milestones required for her transition into becoming either a guide or service dog. Gretel has learned basic house obedience rules and is now ready to move to the next training phase,” according to the Sheriff’s Department.
During their time together, Valenzuela and Gretel visited general population inmates, inmates with mental illness, and even LASD staff at other county jail facilities, sheriff’s officials said.
During a gathering at the Twin Towers jail Thursday morning, Valenzuela said being exposed to the activity at the lockup prepared Gretel for the next stage of her training, by teaching her to remain calm in difficult situations.
“To come into an unknown environment and to be OK with it,” Valenzuela told KNX News. “What OK means is she’ll just lay down and relax, and she’s not startled by anything — loud noises, carts, slamming doors. Nothing bothers her.”
She told KNX that Gretel’s success at the jail could open the door for more service dogs-in-training to spend time at the facility.