Last year, we wrote about how incarcerated individuals in Florida comfort shelter dogs during Fourth of July firework displays, but this isn’t the only program allowing incarcerated individuals and canines to collaborate. Pawsitive Change, a pup, and inmate rehabilitation program, pairs incarcerated individuals in California with dogs from Marley’s Mutts Rescue Ranch with benefits for both parties.
The dogs are placed in a 14-week supervised foster program with incarcerated individuals where they learn socialization skills to ready them for adoption. Each cycle, the program selects 24 to 30 inmates and pairs them with eight to 10 dogs. Program founder Jordan Karcher tells Greenmatters, “At the same time, the inmates with the program are learning valuable skills, not only professional animal training but also the basics of leadership and teamwork.”
According to Marley’s Mutts Rescue Ranch, the program targets dogs that would otherwise not be considered not adoptable due to behavioral challenges. After the program, most are ready to be adopted by a loving family. Simultaneously, the sense of responsibility and collaboration provides numerous benefits for inmates, many of whom go on to pursue careers in animal care after release. The program has also seen a nearly zero percent recidivism rate among participants.
We’ve written before about the benefits of pets for mental health, as well as how educational and professional opportunities in prison drastically reduce recidivism rates. This program connects two vulnerable populations with benefits for both. Hopefully, its success will prompt more prisons to collaborate with animal shelters and develop similar programs.