Animals as Healers

The healing power of pets is no secret. Through the many years humankind has had furry friends, their presence has been known to sooth a troubled heart. it’s precisely for this reason that Operation Second Chance began introducing rescue dogs and cats into local prison populations. The result is equal parts surprising and heartwarming, and proof that everyone deserves a second chance.

Deborah Y Strauss DVM

As animals were introduced into the population, an amazing change began to take place. Dogs that displayed behavioral problems were being rehabilitated by inmates. In exchange for taking taming these troubled animals, inmates were allowed the affection so sorely absent from their stay in the correctional facility. Thanks to the success of these early years, the program has been expanded to include kittens.

The beauty of Operation Second Chance is the two-fold opportunity for rehabilitation. Rescue animals are treated with the utmost care while in the correctional facility, and inmates are taught valuable and meditative skills like patience, empathy and sensitivity. As necessary as punishment is for the crime, it’s equally important to remind those eligible that life on the outside is waiting for them. And the mutually beneficial nature of this program has yet to meet a single negative occurrence.

Rescued from high-kill shelters and brought to these correctional facilities created a bond between inmate and pet. Each with the possibility of a new lease on life, participants in Operation Second Chance display no behavioral issues, and look forward to spending quality time with their friends every day.  The most adorable form of therapy, those who operate the correctional facilities wish they’d implemented the program sooner.

Filling the void for many inmates parted from their family, these kittens became surrogate children to the inmates. Put succinctly by an inmate enrolled in the program, she said  “As women, we come in here broken. To feel wanted and needed, it fills a void.” The care and love each animal receives only further cements the belief that all it takes is the right kind of love to turn any life around.