Every cat parent understands that their pet cat is not only a friend but also a source of healing. Cats have a therapeutic effect on us, helping to alleviate anxiety and depression.
They provide companionship, reduce loneliness, and bring joy into our lives.
However, cats have developed another remarkable ability over the years. Specifically, the cats at a prison in Indiana have the power to transform the lives of prisoners. Let’s delve into this fascinating story!
It all started when the Animal Protection League and the state of Indiana joined forces to initiate a wonderful program at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.
The program, known as F.O.R.W.A.R.D., aimed to create a safe environment for shelter cats while giving inmates the opportunity to care for them.
It didn’t take long for the program to prove successful, benefiting both the cats and the inmates.
Many of these shelter cats, unfortunately, have a history of mistreatment and abuse, making it difficult for them to socialize with humans properly.
Due to their lack of trust in people, their chances of adoption were very low. However, this program offered them the perfect chance for a fresh start!
The cats receive behavior modification and a trust-building program, helping them become well-adjusted and ready for a loving home.
Inmates take on the responsibility of feeding, grooming, and cleaning up after the cats, providing them with care and attention. Through this interaction, the cats become more trusting and social.
Yet, this program is not only beneficial for the cats; it also offers significant opportunities for the inmates. It provides them with the valuable experience of caring for another living being and teaches them responsibility.
The director of APL, M. Stringer said:
“I’ve had offenders tell me when they got an animal, it was the first time they can remember they were allowing themselves to care about something, to love something.”
The program instills a sense of responsibility, teaches non-violent problem-solving in a group setting, and gives the inmates the chance to feel the unconditional love of a pet.
“It teaches them responsibility, how to interact in a group using non-violent methods to solve problems, and gives them the unconditional love of a pet – something many of these inmates have never known.”
Similar programs have been implemented in correctional facilities across the country. One notable example is the program established by the organization Purrfect Pals at the Monroe Correctional Complex.
These programs have proven to be immensely successful in their mission.
However, it’s worth noting that one of these programs stirred anger among some individuals.
Following the release of a documentary called “Death Row,” people expressed their discontent on social media regarding inmates interacting with cats.
They believed that individuals convicted of heinous crimes should not be allowed to keep cats in their cells and that many of them should not be entrusted with pets.