Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jaekel, Kathryn S.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


Throughout history and in every culture and country, animals and humans have formed special bonds often as pets. Well trained pets have often been used in Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) programs in hospitals and nursing homes to help patients cope with illnesses and recovery while away from home. Pet visits to these facilities have documented reductions in medications, stress, and loneliness when a simple wet nose reaches on to a patient’s bed for attention. A variety of animals have been incorporated into various facilities ranging from birds, fish tanks, and puppies and kittens to relieve the stress of residents. A majority of AAT programs now incorporate dogs to serve as assistants in opening doors, fetching shoes, or any combination of articles to help disabled family members in daily chores. Some therapy dogs are trained as alert assistants to parents before a child has an epileptic attack avoiding harm to them. Literature review citations have documented how incorporating animals into prisons have helped to reduce tension, altercations, and medication usage among the inmates since the early 1900’s. By incorporating AAT programs into male prisons with the usage of taming wild mustangs, the men learn animal skills in training and care of the horses. In turn, this transforms them into caring human beings by learning compassion for the animals that is extended to fellow prisoners. The other positive benefit is the possibility of obtaining jobs in animal care when released from prison. There is little research available with the use of AAT programs with women prisoners that might result in the same outcomes of learning patience, confidence, self-worth and self-esteem as their male counterparts. The purpose of this research was to explore how women prisoners perceived a transformation by working with the dogs in the AAT program while incarcerated.


111 pages




Northern Illinois University

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