PUPPY LOVE: Prison program uses therapy dogs to help inmates become better parents
A program at a men's prison in Westchester is helping inmates become better parents - with some help from therapy dogs.
Life behind bars can be especially hard for parents.
Robert is one of six incarcerated men who want to become better fathers, despite the actions that landed them in the Westchester County Department of Corrections.
After undergoing two months of classes in an innovative program called Parenting, Prison and Pups, the men are ready to graduate.
The program incorporates therapy dogs who provide emotional support.
"When they are coming in and talking about being separated from their children, it can be very, very sad. And I think the dogs just bring that extra sense of comfort for them," says Susan Miller, clinical social worker.
It's the first group of men to graduate from the program, which has had success at the women's prison in Westchester County for years.
Pace University professor Dr. Kimberly Collica-Cox runs the program.
"As we know, family tends to be the No. 1 factor in helping to reduce recidivism to provide support when people are released. It also helps to reduce future intergenerational offending patterns for their children," she says.
The Parenting, Prison and Pups program will continue at the Westchester County Department of Corrections. It will host a program for the women in the fall and for the men next spring.
The program is a partnership between Pace University, Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause and the Department of Corrections.

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