, March 01, 2024

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Save All Asks Bucor: Create Transformative Programs Rather Than Ban Strays From Prisons


  •   3 min reads
Save All Asks Bucor: Create Transformative Programs Rather Than Ban Strays From Prisons

An inmate take his dog (assigned to him) on a walk and is training him basic commands. (Photo from Getty royalty-free images.)
By Mariana Burgos

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) recently announced a nationwide prohibition on stray dogs and cats within prison facilities, citing public safety concerns regarding the potential spread of rabies. The move, aimed at preventing disease transmission and safeguarding K9 units from ticks and fleas, has sparked a contentious debate.

BuCor defended its decision on Facebook, emphasizing the need to eradicate animal rabies within communities. The order directs personnel to collaborate with local veterinary offices for the impoundment of stray animals, particularly at the New Bilibid Prison.

However, this decision faces opposition from advocacy groups like CARA Philippines and  Save Animals of Love and Light-Save ALL Inc. who urge authorities to reconsider. Following CARA’s initiative, Save ALL emphasizes the profound positive impact of pet companionship on inmates’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being. They cite successful programs in the US, highlighting how caring for animals contributes to a structured lifestyle and enhances inmates’ overall health.

Save ALL’s official statement:

Save ALL kindly urges all relevant officials within the Department of Justice and prison administration to reconsider the decision to remove cats and dogs from prisons.

The act of caring for felines and canines, or any pet, for that matter, profoundly benefits the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of inmates. Research underscores the positive impact of nurturing a cat or dog, highlighting its potential to improve overall health as seen in the results with the Prison Pet Partnership in Gig Harbor, Washington, and the Florida Department of Corrections in Florida, USA. In both institutions, it is seen that engaging in pet care fosters a sense of purpose, positively affecting mental and emotional health. The responsibility of tending to a pet provides inmates with a reason to actively engage in daily routines, promoting movement and a structured lifestyle.

Moreover, cats, specifically, serve a dual purpose by naturally addressing issues related to pest control, such as the elimination of mice and cockroaches.

A stray kitten is fed during a Save All feeding program. (Photo taken from Save ALL file photos.)

Notably, concerns about rabies and parasitic diseases such as tic and worm infestations, need not result in drastic measures. Advocating for the inclusion of pets in prison environments, Save All strongly suggests administering anti-rabies and deworming vaccinations to ensure both human and animal safety.

In cases where stray cats are a concern, it is pertinent to highlight that new felines will not enter the premises if a cat population already exists within the facility.

Post the administration of anti-rabies and deworming vaccinations, it is recommended that prison authorities collaborate with municipal or regional veterinarians to undertake the spaying or neutering of these cats and dogs. This measure will effectively manage and control the population, ensuring a sustainable and humane approach to the situation and will encourage and nurture a more beneficial coexistence of both humans and animals in prisons.

The Transformative Prison Pet Programs

In recent years, a unique approach to inmate rehabilitation has emerged across various correctional facilities in the United States—a program that brings together two seemingly distant worlds: prison and pets. The integration of pets into prison life has sparked a remarkable transformation, not only for the incarcerated individuals but also for the lives of at-risk dogs.

This article delves into the profound influence of prison pet programs, drawing insights from notable initiatives like Pawsitive Change in California, the TAILS program in Florida, and the impactful endeavors of organizations like the Prison Pet Partnership in Washington. Through these initiatives, inmates and at-risk dogs find a common ground where mutual rehabilitation and learning flourish.

The Positive Impact on Inmate Rehabilitation:

Pawsitive Change Program

In the article, “Pets in prison: the rescue dogs teaching Californian inmates trust and responsibility” by Hilda Burke, in California’s Pawsitive Change program, pioneered by Zach Skow, founder of Marley’s Mutts, and a team of dedicated individuals, inmates embark on a transformative journey by pairing up with rescue dogs from “high-kill” shelters. The program’s fundamental goal is to teach inmates valuable life lessons through dog training, fostering empathy, responsibility, and trust among participants.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist, writer, and tutor. She has been a solo parent for 17 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

To be continued

This article also appears in the Manila Standard


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