PAWS is a unique program that uses the natural relationship that comes from the bond between humans and animals living together and being responsible for each other.See this Brownwood Bulletin coverage (pdf) from April, when five girls graduated the first class of five dogs. I like this approach a lot. To train a dog requires a level of empathy, patience, and personal responsibility that probably is of greater therapeutic value than many of TYC's formal treatment programs. Plus the act of participating in skills instruction, applying what was taught and witnessing positive results from one's work likely is an alien concept for a lot of kids who end up in youth prisons. However, all such programs I'm aware of seem to exist on an extremely small scale. (Five inmates is a drop in the bucket.) The program is sponsored independently by Ag-Mart, Dr. Pepper, and a couple of local veterinarians, but given poor outcomes for TYC drug treatment, if it came to choosing I might prefer they fund the PAWS program.
The PAWS program pairs select TYC youth with K9 partners for 12 weeks. The dogs, who come from local animal shelters, learn basic commands, improved socialization skills, and earn American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizenship certification. Youth learn responsibility and benefit from the companionship.
During the 12 week program, youth are responsible for their dogs at all times. They must groom, feed, and train them. The dogs live on the dorm with their human caretakers. To reduce the chances of a pair becoming too attached, youth rotate K9 assignments.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Female inmates training dogs in Brownwood
I've seen reports of similar programs in adult settings and always thought it was a good idea, so I'm pleased to see notice on the Texas Youth Commission website that the Ron Jackson unit in Brownwood, which houses female juvenile inmates, is experimenting with youth training dogs as part of their treatment curriculum: