Strasbourg, France: Pets Helping Prisoners

17 05 2010

Locked away in a cage – these pets’ living conditions may reflect that of their prisoner owners, but the relationship between them is having a profound effect.

At this prison in Strasbourg, France, the Animal Affinity Club uses animals in the rehabilitation of its residents.

The animals include rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and birds, and each prisoner is responsible for feeding and providing water for their own pets.

An animal mediator said the creatures have a calming effect on the prisoners, helping improve relationships amongst each other and the guards.

It is also said to lower tension and increase self confidence.

One prisoner said it has calmed him down.

[Prisoner]:
“I know that I was very hot tempered and this has really calmed me down. It lets me see things other than the walls. I really think that when I get out of here I’ll take the animal with me, because I’ve become really attached to this ball of fur.”

Another prisoner said the program boosted his morale.

[Prisoner]:
“It’s an hour of freedom. It does me good of course. When I let it out, it’s freedom by proxy you could say. And when I put it back in it’s cage, it reminds me that I’m going back into my cell too. But I’ll see it again the next day. And that keeps my morale up.”

The prisoners have formed close bonds with the pets, and the prison director is a big believer in the animal therapy.

The Animal Affinity Club now aims to spread the concept to other prisons and institutions, such as nursing homes.

SOURCE: Ode Magazine

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