Correctional Service Canada
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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Pet Facilitated Therapy in Correctional Institutions


I. Health and Security

In addition to other prerequisites, the health of inmates and animals should be carefully screened before the program starts. For example, in a Prison Pet Partnership Program handout, inmates are to refrain from participating in the program when they are under the influence of medication that may affect their reaction time, because it can delay their response to a dog’s misbehaviour. Allergies and phobias should be looked into among the staff and inmates to protect those who are vulnerable to certain animals.

Inmates should be taught the proper way to wash their hands before and after handling the animals. This can prevent passing on any minor illnesses between animals and humans. The animals should also be bathed and groomed on a regular basis to protect against any illness and minimize potential allergies. As well, animals should only eat their own food. Animals should be promptly returned to their kennels/crates when they are not supervised. Cusack and Smith (1984) explain that caring properly for animals can discourage most problems.

Continued veterinary supervision can eliminate health problems. Proper nutrition, required grooming, and care of the animal’s cage or bedding can prevent most sanitation hazards. In short, responsible pet ownership and common sense will eliminate most problems before they begin.