Since over 90% of all offenders will be released back into general society, they have a chance to use their corrections time wisely to prepare them to contribute back to their communities when paroled.
HEALING SPECIES PRISON PROGRAM
Reaching adults and juveniles with residential and visiting programs, the Healing Species Prison Program pairs rescued dogs and prison inmates together for second chances in life. Formerly neglected and abused dogs come into the prison with wagging tails and loving hearts, moving inmates to open up and explore their own wounded hearts and broken lives. They are a living message that "What happens to you in life is not what defines you. What defines you is your heart and how you respond."
Handlers are "hand-picked" and trained to care for and love the dogs, as well as socialize and teach them good manners skills. Previously "unadoptable" dogs are transformed through unlimited attention and affection into confident and healthy pups ready for a forever home. The transformation experience is not limited to the dogs -- changes among inmates is noticed by others who see their character developed by expressions of compassion, responsibility, selflessness, empathy for others. Reversal of the effects of underdevelopment and social apathy gives way to mature and meaningful service to the dogs and relationships with fellow inmates, volunteers, staff, and family connections. While the end goal is for the dogs to be adopted into a forever family in the community, the Prison Program produces multi-faceted benefits along the way. Positive physiological, emotional, and behavioral improvements occur, such as the reduction of anxiety, aggression, violence, and stress in the correctional environment. The Prison Program is a tool to reach and engage other segments of the prison population.
These special dogs become part of the unit and friends to all, even providing pet therapy visits to other units in the Corrections Facility, touching the hearts and hands of hundreds of men.
“A hardened heart can be softened by the unconditional love these dogs provide. Would you prefer to encounter a paroled inmate who has addressed healing and the gaining of respect for feelings of others through this program, or one who has not had opportunity to address these issues?” asks Healing Species founder and attorney, Cheri Brown Thompson.
Deputy Director, Michael McCall of the South Carolina Department of Corrections says, "Many inmates say that being a part of Healing Species has given them the gift of unconditional love for the first time in their lives. With over 90% of our inmates returning to society, programs like this offer hope that behaivors can be corrected and the incarceration time of these inmates can truly be life changing - in a good way!"
What participant inmates are saying:
"My first day in the CBU, Shepp came running up to me an licked and kissed all over me - it was the first unconditional physical touch of love I ever remember receiving."
"This program is awesome and I hope it gets to continue so other people can feel as good as I do about helping animals."
"Since being Dingo's handler, my blood pressure has gone down, I've gone off medications, and I've lost 12 pounds I needed to lose."
"Being a main dog handler has been a huge responsibility and a big blessing."
The Prison Program is in multiple SCDC Corrections Facilities. You can obtain further information about our program at the inaugural site by visiting the Perry Character Based Unit website.
"Nuts & Bolts" Relationship-Based Training Manual in compilation with Jen Walker of Grower Kinder. www.growingkinder.org
Interested in starting a prison program with Healing Species? Interested in adopting? Please contact us!
This program depends entirely on donations! Please consider sponsoring a dog today!
"As a handler, my life has changed dramatically. I am no longer self-absorbed. I have learned compassion, humility, and leadership skills that not for these dogs, I would never known exist. These dogs deserve the love and devotion we can give them, but when it comes to second chances, the dogs seem to give more than they receive."
"After time, I saw how the dogs didn't judge us, they just showed unconditional love. Also, I saw how a man behind bars will go out of his way to take care of the dogs. And how he takes every second of every day for for the dog to make sure they get help and are trained properly. I guess it gives me hope and joy to make a difference for the dog, because we failed at so many other things in life. I think the program is a godsend for a lot of inmates because it gives them unconditional love, hope, and a purpose that they can't or didn't know how to get from anything else. And also it gives the dogs hope, love, trust, and a chance to get adopted, so they can have a better life. "