Pets aren’t just great companions but they can also be excellent healers. They can reduce anxiety and depression and they can make people feel a lot less lonely. Pets can also improve one’s mood and provide a sense of purpose.
Pets can transform lives, too.
The Animal Protection League initiated this amazing program in the Pendleton Correctional Facility. They named the program F.O.R.W.A.R.D. or Felines and Offenders Rehabilitation with Affection, Reformation and Dedication.
In this program, the inmates take turns in taking care of the cats.
This resulted in a huge change in the cats’ living conditions. Compared with their lives in shelters where they have to be inside cages most of the time, the cats can freely roam inside a much bigger space.
They can socialize with other cats and be with other people. In fact, they even have cat trees, walkways, and scratching posts which the inmates create for them.
The inmates experienced a huge change in their outlook in life.
Being in prison is stressful. It makes you think of all the negative and horrible things that have happened and will happen to you. Sitting in a cell for most of the time makes negative thinking a lot worse.
With the cats, the inmates started having a more positive outlook. Most of them look forward to seeing and being with the cats for nine hours. The experience gave them a good reason to work hard on being better than they were before.
The program isn’t forced on anyone. In fact, cat duties are voluntary. When an applicant shows interest in joining, the authorities make sure that he is fit for the job.
Each cat has its own Id badge, just like the inmates.
They are given really cute names to match their personality. Once they are adopted, the cats are allowed to live inside the inmates’ cells for the whole time they are staying in prison. The inmates can buy them toys and treats or build cat furniture and toys for them.
What’s nice about the program is that it also allows the inmates to take them once they are out on parole. In case there’s a report on bad behaviors, the cats are sent home or put up for adoption.
Because of that, the inmates try their hard to be on their best behavior. There are less stress and violence among the inmates and guards.
F.O.R.W.A.R.D. makes the cat a lot more social. It encourages the animals to have more trust in humans as they feed, clean, and groom them. Those traits are essential in helping them find a forever home and family- whether it’s with the inmates or other people who decide to adopt them.
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