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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Pet Facilitated Therapy in Correctional Institutions

D. Background -A Brief Overview

ii) PFT in Nursing Homes

In nursing homes, PFT provides residents with:

A form of non-threatening, reassuring, non-verbal communication and tactile comfort, and to help to break the cycle of loneliness, hopelessness and social withdrawal. Many of who had been detached and unhappy. In many cases, the pet dogs involved residents in walks and other activity, helping to improve physical and emotional well being (SCAS, 1987).

According to Katcher (1988), the role of pets and domestic animals is closely related to the physiological and psychological well being of humans, especially as related

to touch, intimacy, and nurturance. Animals can give undivided attention to often-lonely elderly residents, something that the staff do not always have time to provide. The results of a study completed by Perelle and Granville (1997) suggest that when animals are introduced into an institutional environment, they provide a catalyst for positive social behaviour change. The animals provide a unique contribution to the institutional environment.

The benefits an institution can receive by implementing a pet therapy program include:

  • a more relaxed atmosphere
  • an improved sense of patient/[inmate] self-worth
  • a necessary diversion
  • companionship

Companion animals can be utilized in nursing-retirement communities to relieve resident’s feelings of loneliness, depression and boredom. Individuals have also exhibited dramatic improvements in their ability to interact and communicate with other residents and staff. (Cusack and Smith, 1984)