Animals have the power to heal us. The therapeutic power of dogs and cats has long been documented and welcomed by people for years.
Animals can help with depression, anxiety and be some of the best companions in elevating our moods while decreasing blood pressure.
Their ability to transform lives can be reach even convicted offenders. The state of Indiana teamed up with the Animal Protection League to try out a rather wonderful project at the Pendleton Correctional Facility called F.O.R.W.A.R.D in 2015.
The brilliant idea was to have shelter cats placed in the correctional facility while inmates were in charge of their care. The project proved to be an amazing initiative for both the inmates and the cats.
Many of these cats shelter cats had terrible backgrounds and the ability to socialize with humans in a controlled environment allows them the proper treatment and care they so deservedly deserve.
Many of these felines aren’t very trusting and end up sitting at shelters for extended periods of time and their chances of being adopted become less and less. The program offers these cats patience and love until they find their forever homes.
The prisoners feed, groom and clean after them, allowing cats to start building their trust towards humans again.
The cats aren’t the only ones to benefit -the inmates are provided with an opportunity to learn compassion, while caring for an animal that needs love and giving inmates responsibility.
“I’ve had offenders tell me when they got an animal, it was the first time they can remember they were allowing themselves to care about something, to love something,” said the director of APL, Maleah Stringer.
“It teaches them responsibility, how to interact in a group using non-violent methods to solve problems and gives them the unconditional love of a pet – something many of these inmates have never known,” the APL writes on their website.
These animal programs are spreading across US prisons, with Monroe Correctional Complex-Special Offender Unit being no exception, teaming up with the organization called Purrfect Pals.
“The MCKC Program has reduced offender idleness, taught offenders about responsibility and increased their self-esteem. Since the program’s inception, offenders have been motivated to enroll in school, obtain jobs, obey unit rules and improve their hygiene so that they may become MCKC participants. The presence of animals on E Unit has added a new calmness to E Unit’s therapeutic milieu and strengthened its community spirit,” Purrfect Pals writes on their website.