MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck announced a new initiative to support the mental health needs of jail inmates using therapy dogs.
The initiative aims to provide a service that helps ease feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger as inmates go through the court system.
“While these programs are often heavily promoted in the prison systems, they are far less common in county jails,” Sheriff Streck said. “However, when we launched this program last week, we could immediately see the calming effect these animals had not only on our inmates, but with the staff. This program is a means of supporting emotional wellness and we are looking forward to more positive outcomes associated.”
The therapy dogs have been used more recently outside the jail, providing emotional support for those affected by the Memorial Day tornado outbreak.
Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association is a partner with the Sheriff’s office in the endeavor as the handlers and dogs all present in good standing with the MVPTA.
“Therapy dogs should not be confused with service animals,” Teresa Russell, jail treatment coordinator, said. “We have worked to design a true therapeutic program with support from our medical and mental health providers. This program focuses on socialization and encouragement, giving inmates the opportunity to meet with the dogs and their handlers through both group and one on one sessions, often learning and relating to how these animals have survived emotional and physical traumas.”