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Thursday, November 01, 2007


I was at the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow yesterday for a lecture by Professor Aubrey Manning on animals & humanity. Not nearly as touchy feely as I had expected.

A point he made in passing was that pensioners with pets live significantly longer than those without, which I have not been able to find a link to but seems very likely & that people in prison allowed pets have a lower recidivism rate , which I have.
The dog’s and the inmate’s day starts at 6:00AM when the inmates get their dogs up and ends when they bed them down at 10:30Pm. The inmates and the dogs work hard, but the rewards and benefits are great for both.

The program allows the inmate to perform community service while incarcerated, build self-esteem, self discipline and confidence, and maybe learn to love and be loved UNCONDITIONALLY for the first time in their lives.

Transition back into society is much easier for those who have participated in the program. Research on programs with inmate/trainers training rescue dogs document almost a zero recidivism rate of the prisoners participating in the programs.

Almost 100% of the dogs participating in the program are adopted into permanent homes
Now some scepticism is worthwhile because no figures are given as to the size of the sample population - an almost zero recidivism rate could mean one person out of a total of 6 - & it is likely this was tried with fairly reasonable prisoners in the first place.

Still there are quite a few sites saying the same. It depends how much prison is for punishment & how much for rehabilitation & I would prefer the latter, if & only if it really produces rehabilitation. All the experiments here seem to have been in the US & I think a trial here would be useful.

I would also like to see pets being encouraged in retirement homes. My suspicion is that our regulators are actively preventing this on hygiene terms. However such rules are there to keep people alive longer & if pets would instead do this better & make life considerably happier then I think rules should be amended accordingly.

The other place I could see this being worthwhile is for children taken into "care". Care homes, disgracefully, produce a very high proportion of those in prison & homeless. The state is a very poor provider of such "care" . If there is any group in society we have failed it is such children & if this could go a little way to helping we should.

re Aubrey Manning's lecture - for more informationon research re human-animal interaction go to the SCAS website
I am Chair of SCAS and have visited many prisons in UK and USA with animal programmes and seen the benefits for myself.Prisoners who work with dogs have a very low recidivism rate. Project Pooch in Oregon recorded a 0% rate for over 10 years of operation with young offenders. Usual rate for this group 58% in 2 years post release. Yes we should also have petsa in residential care settings - see SCAS Pets for Life campaign on our website. As well as improved health for older people the financial savings to NHS budget would be immense. Elizabeth Ormerod MRCVS
Thank you Elizabeth - 0% is a very impressive figure & while I tend to be dubious about simple low cost solutions to complex problems this seems to go a long way to doing so. I guess it is an example of treating people like responsible humans rather than inhabitants of government filing cabinets, which I am finding to be a more general solution.
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