On Monday, November 4, 2019 nine women at the Westchester County Department of Correction completed Pace University innovative animal assisted therapy program ‘Parenting, Prisons and Pups’, which helps to heal parents incarcerated at the Westchester County jail.

The program, developed in partnership with the county’s Department of Correction and non-profit The Good Dog Foundation, pairs incarcerated mothers with trained therapy dogs to teach them parenting skills as part of their return home after release.

“Parenting, Prison and Pups” is one of 32 programs in place at the Westchester County Jail. Nationally, it is the first program of its kind to incorporate animal-assisted therapy into a structured classroom curriculum and instills trust in women that participated in the course, many of whom have experienced prior trauma and violence or who suffer from mental health issues and addiction.  In working with therapy dogs, the program enhances their parenting skills in an effort to return them to their families and to reduce familial incarceration.

Correction Commissioner Joseph K. Spano addressed the graduates and congratulated them on taking up the opportunity to learn skills that would assist them in strengthening their relationships with their children and loved ones. 

Spano said: “Your families, WDOC Staff and the communities you will once again call home support you during your reentry process, so never give up, because many people are rooting for your success.”