New jail program brings in dogs to visit with veterans, inmates

(submitted photo by MCSO)

(submitted photo by MCSO)

A number of dogs in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Maricopa Animal Safe Haven Unit are going to be doing some “ruff” time as part of a new jail program.

The dogs, ranging from pit bulls to labs to terriers, will be shuttled from their home at the Sheriff’s Office First Avenue Jail to visit inmates in the veterans pod at Towers Jail in the Durango Complex every Wednesday, according to a press release.

Studies have been found that the presence of “man’s best friend” from time to time help inmates deal with stress. Many veterans upon returning home from deployments overseas have also turned to dogs for companionship. Some veterans worked with dogs on the battlefield and find the continued interaction with them soothing.

Additionally, the program will also help the incarcerated dogs relate to a caring human touch.

“We owe the veteran a special debt of gratitude, even after their issues with the law,” stated Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the release.

The veterans pod was established by Sheriff Arpaio to house only military veterans as a means to bring about rehabilitation that is tailored to their source problems, including PTSD.

All the dogs in the MASH Unit are formerly abused and neglected, having been seized from their prior owners under criminal circumstances by detectives in the Animal Crimes Unit. MASH, was instituted by Sheriff Arpaio 15 years ago and are housed in a fully air-conditioned facility at First Avenue Jail. The dogs are cared for daily by female inmates, the release stated.

A plan is in place to have the dogs visit all classifications of inmates with the exception of disciplinarian pods.

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