In 1981 I started a program where inmates are training dogs for the handicapped. Unwanted dogs from the humane society are found that had the potential to become good service dogs. Since this first program started there are now programs in all of Washington State's prisons.. ten prisons have a dog program and two have a cat program. I went to visit four of these prisons and was impressed with the dedication and committment of the inmates who were doing a good job. Here are a few pictures.
Now there are prison dog programs all over the United States and in other countries. It helps teach the inmates how to become 'other' centered as well as to bring meaning to their own suffering. In order to change, it must be done with love. People and animals respond to love more than hate or anger. People need to be responsible for their crime but also give the oppertunity to change. Giving inmates a chance to give back to others is an oppertunity to learn a new life. Not all change but many do and as a concerned person, I want to try my best to help make this a better world.
I hope other prisons will think about putting a prison dog or cat program in their institution. The cat program is where the inmates socialize abandoned cats to make them more adoptable. Saving dogs, cats and inmates help make this a better society that we live in. One person changed is one person who will do something to give back and becomes a part of that positive ripple effect that moves out into the world to reach others.