Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck has announced a new initiative aimed at supporting the mental health needs of jail inmates.
Through a partnership with the Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association, Streck hopes to provide an innovative service to inmates that helps ease feelings of anxiety, depression and anger as they navigate the court system.
“While these programs are often heavily promoted in the prison systems, they are far less common in county jails. 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,” Streck said. “This program is a means of supporting emotional wellness and we are looking forward to more positive outcomes associated.”
Streck has also invited and utilized the therapy dogs outside of the jail, most recently providing emotional support to tornado victims.
“Therapy dogs should not be confused with service animals. We have worked to design a true therapeutic program with support from our medical and mental health providers,” Jail Treatment Coordinator Teresa Russell said. “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.”