It is a well-known fact that pets have therapeutic properties. They have the unique ability to make us feel less lonely, reduce depression, and even lower blood pressure in some cases!
The state of Indiana decided to use this property to attempt to help convicts. They started a program called F.O.R.W.A.R.D. in the Pendleton Correctional Facility.
The idea behind this program is simple! They took cats awaiting adoption in shelters and brought them into the convicts’ lives.
Shelter cats usually are brought in from the streets, which means that they aren’t used to socializing with humans. At times, they even experienced abuse, thus making it even harder for them to trust humans.
When there’s a lack of trust on the cats’ side, the chances to get adopted are small. The program allows them to gain confidence and trust in their own time. Gaining the felines’ trust takes time. The inmates tread them as their own. They feed and groom them, clean after them, and patiently get closer to them.
Prisoners who take part in the program help shelter cats to be adopted but benefit from it themselves as well. They concentrate on making their cats happy. Sometimes, healing others can make us feel rewarded and esteemed. Moreover, it teaches a lot about taking responsibility and understanding that the animal relies on them.
The feedback from this program is incredible! Offenders say that their new furry companions opened their hearts for them to truly love something for the first time.
Other similar programs like ‘Purrfect Pals’ inspire inmates to become better human beings and start concentrating on positive things.
‘Purrfect Pals’ writes on its website that the program has proved itself to be successful.
“The ….M.C.K.C. 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 ….M.C.K.C. participants. The presence of animals on E Unit has added a new calmness to E Unit’s therapeutic milieu and strengthened its community spirit,”