Therapy dogs help teens in juvenile detention turn around their lives

At the Fairfax County, Virginia juvenile detention center, therapy dogs are helping teens become better people, and hopefully help them stay out of trouble when they’re adults. By learning how to responsibly care for and interact with an animal in a controlled environment, some of these teens say they’re picking up valuable life skills.

“Accountability, integrity,” one teen told Fox 5. “I’ve learned to do good things even though people aren’t really watching.”

It’s all part of an effort that hopes to get offenders to understand the choices they made that led them here, and to show them that they can be more than their past mistakes.

“I’m 18 now, and I don’t want to get out there and do the same thing,” said another offender. “I feel like this has helped me a lot to turn my thinking around.”

It’s a way to show these teens that their past mistakes don’t have to define their futures. Not only that, the dogs also allow an emotional outlet for those who might feel misunderstood, according to Sonny Madsen who runs K9 Caring Angels, the group that provides the therapy dogs.

“The nice thing about dogs is they don’t pass judgment,” she said.