Doing time with my best friend: Animal Offender Co-rehabilitation Within Correctional Facilities

Author: Jo Kennedy

Kennedy, Jo, 2015 Doing time with my best friend: Animal Offender Co-rehabilitation Within Correctional Facilities, Flinders University, Flinders Law School

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The plight of unwanted companion animals has been eclipsed in the public arena by the enormity of the injustice enacted on production animals. Across Australia and the United States, hundreds of thousands of dogs are destroyed in animal shelters each year because, for want of rehabilitation, a home cannot be found for them. Effective rehabilitation of offenders within correctional facilities also remains a problem and although the two issues appear disconnected, this thesis identifies a potential solution for both species. It is contended that both prisoners in pre-release, and dogs that have been declared ‘unsuitable’ for adoption due to age or temperament, are in need of an intervention that involves animal welfare and corrections organisations in their co-rehabilitation. This thesis shows that the co-placement of these two vulnerable cohorts—human and non-human—in a structured, therapeutic, non-speciesist environment will assist in the rehabilitation of both species.

Based on a preliminary assessment by the correctional institution, it is envisaged that prisoners who are within 12 months of release from the facility are ideally placed to adopt a dog. The anxieties and behavioural problems caused by long-term incarceration are not species-specific. For both dog and offender, issues such as anxiety, aggression and timidity are exacerbated by incarceration within an institution. This offers an ideal opportunity to investigate the human–animal bond and how it can improve the psychological wellbeing of both inmate and animal. Through a qualitative and theoretical examination of the rehabilitation of shelter dogs and offenders, this thesis offers a substantial reframing of both subject groups, challenging preconceptions of animal instrumentalisation and the limitations of care and custody. More importantly, this thesis contributes a change from the human-centred focus of rehabilitation to a more holistic approach commonly found in other areas of restorative justice, and addresses the moral and ethical issues surrounding the treatment of both animal species.

Keywords: offender rehabilitation, shelter dog rehabilitation, human-animal bond,

Subject: Law thesis

Thesis type: Professional Doctorate
Completed: 2015
School: Flinders Law School
Supervisor: Professor Willem de Lint