21 May 2024

Thailand’s Department of Corrections is working on the launch of a pilot dog therapy project in prisons in Nakhon Ratchasima, Ratchaburi and Rayong provinces, according to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin.

He said that the project could help in improving the mental health of inmates and provide job opportunities for prisoners in pet grooming services, such as haircutting, dog bathing and nail trimming, after they are released from prisons.

He said that the pilot project, to be launched at Nakhon Ratchasima, Klong Pai, Rayong and Khao Bin prisons, will initially focus on aging inmates, those who repeatedly violate prison regulations and psychiatric prisoners.

The dogs will be specially selected to suit the prisoner volunteers, with the help of a pet dog association, said Somsak, adding that progress will be assessed regularly and, if the pilot is a success, it will be expanded to other prisons.

The project is based on Thailand’s Department of Mental Health’s 2018 republication of a 2014 study called “The Benefit of Pet and Animal-Assisted Therapy to the Health of Older Individuals”, conducted by E. Paul Cherniack and his team from the the University of Miami (UM) Miller School of Medicine to determine the effectiveness of pet therapy in treating depression and psychiatric problems among aging people.

The study showed that pets can help improve the mental health of patients and address loneliness and separation from society.