Pet therapy has been long proven, both anecdotally and through numerous studies, to provide numerous positive impacts on patients. This is evidenced via the numerous programs that exist in hospitals and long term care facilities.
Those of us that are pet owners can speak to the love of our family pet. There is just “something” about the unconditional love that comes from a dog. The wagging tail, drooling… who can resist that face!
There are several programs being implemented in correctional facilities that pair surrendered dogs with inmates across the country, for example:
- Paws in Prison (Arkansas)
- Puppies for Parole (Missouri)
- Project Pooch (Oregon)
- OK Humane (Central Oklahoma Humane Society) in collaboration with the Mabel Bassett Correctional Facility
There are two key areas of benefit to these programs:
1. The Animal Shelter
The structure of the various animal shelters across the country varies widely. Some have adequate space to house animals while they’re waiting for their “forever families”, some are struggling to keep up with the number of pets being surrendered daily, and others rely on foster families and have very limited ability to keep any animals on site.
In the case of OK Humane, they have no shelter and rely on foster families completely; therefore the ability to foster dogs with behavioral issues in the Mabel Bassett Correctional facility provides them with the opportunity to rescue more surrendered pets from an uncertain future.
2. The Inmates
Where to start with the benefits to inmates! Working with the dogs, training and socializing them, has shown to:
- Give inmates the ability to contribute back to society, creating a greater sense of community
- Teach empathy, kindness
- Foster a sense of responsibility
- Create a boost to morale
- Training, grooming and socializing the dogs teaches inmates life skills that they can implement when the re-enter society.
In the case of the program presently in the Mabel Bassett Correctional facility, the dogs are blossoming. Everyone is getting a second chance!
I invite you to learn more about the program currently being run by OK Humane, by watching this video.