Pets are not only human’s companions and best friends, but they often serve as our healers.
The therapeutic power animals have on us has been known for centuries, and many pets, including dogs and cats, help us reduce depression and anxiety, they make us feel less lonely, they decrease our blood pressure and they skyrocket our mood. However, one aspect that has been overlooked over the years is pets’ ability to help convicted offenders.
Animal Protection League in the state of Indiana started a wonderful program in Pendleton Correctional Facility in 2015 called F.O.R.W.A.R.D., and the idea is to take cats from a shelter and place them in the correctional facility in order for inmates to take care of them.
The program proved to be beneficial for both inmates and cats very quickly.
Many of the cats that end up at the shelter have a long history of mistreatment, so they are unable to properly socialize with humans. However, they receive the love and care by prisoners who feed them, clean after them, groom them, and play with them. So, the cats become more trusting towards humans, and inmates get a wonderful opportunity to learn how to care for and take responsibility for pets.
Maleah Stringer, the director of APL, said that she’s had offenders tell her that it was their first time they can remember they were allowing themselves to care about something and love something when they got an animal, and it’s really heartwarming.
There have been similar programs across the U.S. programs after this one proved to be very successful. What do you think about the idea? Tell us in the comments.