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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Pet Facilitated Therapy in Correctional Institutions

B. Defining PFT

Pet-facilitated therapy is also known as animal-facilitated therapy (AFT), human/companion animal bond(H/CAB), or animal-assisted therapy(AAT). In Pets and Mental Health, James Harris of the Montclair Veterinary Clinical Hospital in Oakland, California defines the human-animal bond as "that physical, emotional, intellectual, and philosophical relationship that occurs between a person or family unit and an animal." (Cusack, 1988).

These definitions express the rich and fulfilling relationship that develops between a person and an animal. With few exceptions, animals exude unconditional love for their owners and vice versa. Animals have been shown to be very perceptive to their owners’ emotions and will often stay close by when they sense something is wrong. In this way, they can be understood as offering non-threatening support. People who own animals, or have the opportunity to work with them are most able to appreciate the impact of their companionship and love.