Dog-training programs (DTPs) are the most common type of prison-based animal programs (Furst, 2006). The first successful prison-based animal program in the United States unintentionally began in 1975 at the Lima State Hospital in Ohio, when an inmate adopted an injured bird (Strimple, 2003). The staff noticed a change in the behavior of inmates on the ward, which led them to allow an animal therapy program. It was found that inmates in the ward with animals needed 50% less medication, fewer attempted suicides, and there was less violence compared to a control group of inmates that did not have access to animals (Britton and Button, 2005; Harkrader, Burke, and Owen, 2004).
There have been 290 facilities across the 50 states in America that have implemented DTPs. DTPs have been around since 1981 when the first program was implemented at the Washington State Corrections Center for Women, because the program’s founder, Sister Pauline Quinn, recognized the therapeutic power of dogs when a dog helped her recover from psychiatric issues herself (Kohl and Wenner, 2012). The specific goals and objectives of each program may vary. However, the overall goals are to reduce recidivism and improve behavior among participants. Improving the behavior of participants can ultimately contribute to the rehabilitation effectiveness.
In this episode we will interview an inmate and talk about the program. Special thanks to Domestic-PUPS in Nebraska for allowing us to recored this interview.