Pet Therapy for Prisoners

March 3, 2019
What would you think of a program that could provide help to both people and animals at the same time? It's a thing. It comes as therapy for prisoners using animals that would be sacrificed otherwise. Read on to find out more about this program.

Pet therapy for prisoners is a new concept that has been implemented in several countries. In this article, we’ll tell you where this idea came from, whose idea it was, and what it’s for. We’ll also show you how both prisoners and animals benefit from it.

Agreement to use pets as therapy for prisoners

For several years Affinity, a Spanish animal charity, has been promoting this unique initiative in the world. And, even though there is something similar in the USA, their program is currently the best one available.

The main difference with the Affinity initiative is that the dogs live in the prisons, and so prisoners have access to them whenever they want.

Dogs sitting on the floor.

There are already more than twenty prisons in Spain that adhere to the program and more than 40 animals that take part in it.

This program goes by the name of TEAAC, after its name in Spanish which translates to Assisted Therapy with Companion Animals. It differs from the Animal Assisted Therapy in the United States in several ways:

  • The first difference (which we mentioned above) is that, in Spain, the therapy dogs live inside the prisons.
  • The second difference is that in the USA the prisoners can train the dogs as part of their rehabilitation.

TEAAC and its therapy for prisoners

The objective of the TEAAC is the integration of prisoners into society. Small groups of inmates come together for this purpose so that each prisoner receives personalized attention.

Each session involves therapists, inmates, and dogs. The inmates are carefully selected after submitting themselves to social and psychological evaluations. After that, they’ll prepare a personalized plan in accordance with their needs. They receive basic training instructions to interact with the animal, in order to make the treatment appropriate for both of them.

The animals, mostly Labradors, have set schedules of work and they never work overtime. The rest of their time they spend like other dogs, chilling and playing.

The best part is that many of the selected dogs are rescued dogs. This is either because they couldn’t be adopted, or because there was no room for them in an adoption center.

Affinity takes care of all the animals’ expenses throughout their lives.

What are the benefits?

Many people know that animals help improve our sense of responsibility, self-esteem and help to remove certain negative behavior patterns. Because of this, prison therapists use these animals in order to encourage a positive way of life, as well as improving aspects such as low self-esteem, forming better relationships with others, communication deficiencies, etc.

In conclusion, we could say that prison therapy with dogs has benefits in three main areas:

Emotional

It improves the self-esteem, feelings, and thoughts of the prisoners, making them value themselves more and therefore improving their mood and health.

Institutional

People interacting with dogs.
Dog therapy helps improve the way the inmates relate to each other, and to the professionals who work with them. And so, as a result, they learn to value life and love those around them.

Personal

Inmates improve their relationships with other people and react less negatively to stress, and, as a consequence, their anxiety decreases.

There is no doubt that dog therapy for prisoners brings enormous benefits to almost everyone, but, unfortunately, not all can benefit. For example:

  • Interns with mental illness
  • Physically handicapped patients
  • Teenagers
  • Women
  • Prisoners in isolation
  • Prisoners about to serve a sentence

This therapy requires semi-annual monitoring to evaluate results and thus make sure that it’s working well. We hope that this new initiative by Affinity will reach more prisons around the world!