Teaching teen inmates responsibility with rescue dog

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The Humane Society of Independence County and the White River Juvenile Detention Center in Batesville have teamed up to help bring healing to both an animal and inmates.

Detention Center Administrator Jonathan Pickering said he first discussed animal therapy with a counselor that works with their detainees.

"He told us the details of how it works and that it's really not, you know, counseling services but the kids will interact with the dog and want positive reactions from the dog and that behavior will actually transfer to when they're dealing with people," Pickering said.

So the humane society brought in a dog named Farmer to work with the kids.

"He has been with us at the humane society for almost a year," board member Kristy Harrison said. "He came from a group of 30 or 40 dogs. He just didn't have very much socialization. He does really well with other dogs but as far as human interaction, he didn't have that."

Harrison said that has made it hard for Farmer to get adopted.

So this will help the dog get used to being around humans and being cared for while eliciting positive behavior in the teens.

"Just how to be empathetic," Pickering said. "Their kindness, caring for the dog, responsibility. I mean feeding the dog, brushing the dog. It's everything. It's just how to be a good person in general."

Pickering said since the program began last week behavioral issues from the inmates have already decreased.

Farmer is also already a little less timid from spending time with them, Harrison said.

Independence County Judge Robert Griffin said this program is one of several that they have started at the detention center as a way to help inmates through therapy rather than only being a place to lock them up at.

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