Animals are known to bring so much happiness in our lives. They entertain, makes us feel loved and they have a therapeutic power that helps us cope with anxiety and depression – making them the best companions.

Their ability to help and transform lives has now stretched to convicted offenders in a jail in Indiana.

The state of Indiana collaborated with Animal Protection League (APL) that started a project called F.O.R.W.A.R.D. for prisoners at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. The project partners a number of shelter cats with the prisoners, who will take care of them throughout their stay.

But the project proves to be beneficial for both prisoners and cats.

Many of the felines end up being less desirable adoptees after ending up in the shelters for a very long time. With the help of the prisoners’ companionship, the cats started to be trusting again and bonded well with the others.

On the other hand, the inmates are learning more about being compassionate, caring, have the responsibility to another being’s life, and to commit to something.

“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,” said director of APL, Maleah Stringer.

“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,” APL wrote on their website.

Because of this project, which initially started in 2015, the program has now spread across US prisons, like Monroe Correctional Complex-Special Offender Unit that teamed up with Purrfect Pals, an animal organization.

“Since the program’s inception, offenders have been motivated to enroll in school, obtain jobs, obey unit rules and improve their hygiene so that they may become MCKC participants,” Purrfect Pals wrote on their website. “The presence of animals on E Unit has added a new calmness to E Unit’s therapeutic milieu and strengthened its community spirit.”


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