Hairy four-legged friends help prisoners' rehabilitation
WACOL prisoners have been given a new lease on life with the help of some hairy four-legged friends.
The Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre inmates have taken surrendered animals into their care as part of a new rehabilitation program.
The program, run in partnership with RSPCA Queensland, places dogs with prisoners undergoing drug rehabilitation, for six to eight weeks at a time.
Prison services manager Sue Noordink said the two-month-old program was proving a success.
"It's been absolutely amazing because the inmates don't see kindness as a weakness anymore," she said.
"When you're a drug addict you become very narcissistic and this program also gives them a nice opportunity to look after someone else."
Ms Noordink said nine prisoners were selected to be primary handlers.
They completed an animal training course and obtained certificates in first aid and occupational health and safety.
"The guardians are responsible for feeding, cleaning and looking after the dogs," she said.
"However all of the prisoners interact with the dogs."
Prisoners who spoke to The QT about their new pets, said the animals had been welcomed to the family.
"We're supposed to be tough but the dogs have softened us up," a heavily-tattooed prisoner said with a laugh.
"They've brought out the kids in us and we all get along much better.
"We've also become very protective of the dogs and they take priority over inmates now.
"If someone has a problem with the dogs, he has to leave."
Another prisoner said his dog, an american staffy, had become his best friend - literally.
"I'm adopting him when I get out of here. I've become very attached to him," the man said.
Prison programs officer Lael Bruckner said the arrival of the animals heralded the start of new lives for the prisoners.
"They are showing more love, empathy and respect to their own person and to everyone around them," she said.
"The dogs have also given them a sense of purpose because they feel they are giving back to the community by helping these animals."
RSPCA animal rehabilitation co-ordinator Emma Ginsberg said the animals chosen for the program were either too young for adoption, were injured or had behavioural problems.