A successful experiment at a Michigan prison is showing concrete evidence that dogs make everything better. Corrections Officer John Hassen thought of the idea to bring in a therapy dog to Woodland Correctional Facility earlier this year.
Prison warden Jodie DeAngelo had her doubts, but the live-in therapy dog has changed the prison in more ways than one.
Sadie is the first live-in prison therapy dog in the country, and with her handler by her side, she works directly with the most dangerous prisoners at Woodland Correctional Facility.
Officer Hassen first thought a dog would do well in a prison environment after seeing the positive effects a service animal can have on a person with PTSD. Many of the prisoners at Woodland Correctional Facility suffer with mental illness that make them unable to safely function in the general prison population.
Sadie does her rounds on a daily basis, and prisoners look forward to her visits.
As a service dog, Sadie’s job is to provide the prisoners with comfort and companionship. She visits them in their hospital beds to keep their spirits up and casually interacts with everyone she meets. Prisoners say having Sadie around has helped improve their overall well-being.
The prisoners have nothing but praise to say about Sadie, and her impact isn’t only subjective.
In the nine months that Sadie has lived and worked at Woodland, she has saved the prison–and taxpayers–hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Before Sadie came in, they had the highest rate of emergency room runs compared to other Michigan prisons. Now, thanks to Sadie, they have the lowest.
Prison officials say the change is due to the fact that prisoners don’t want to do anything to hurt their chances of getting to see Sadie.
They understand seeing the therapy dog is a privilege, and they want to be on their best behavior to continue spending time with her. Dr. Terry White, who works at Woodland, told Fox 2 Detroit that the number of self-injuries has significantly decreased because of Sadie.
There are prisoners who haven’t had a chance to interact with a dog for decades, and they’re overwhelmed by the joy Sadie brings.
She’s a smart dog with a gentle, compassionate disposition, and she seems to love what she does.
Woodland Correctional Facility is planning to bring in a second dog because of Sadie’s sucess, and other prisoners may adopt similar programs.