Unique “Jail Diversion Program” Aims To Educate & Rehabilitate Animal Abusers In Central New York

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Photos from CNYACTF Facebook Page

A first-of-its-kind program designed to educate and rehabilitate men and women who have been arrested for animal cruelty or neglect has recently launched in Central New York.

The education-based program was started by the Central New York Animal Cruelty Task Force (CNYACTF) with the goal of preventing repeat offenders.

“Our most challenging initiative to date has finally launched! Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the CNYACTF members and a handful of dedicated mental health professionals who have volunteered countless hours of their time in development and implementation of our Jail Diversion Program. With the support of the judiciary system, we look forward to a successful program to help make meaningful change in our community,” stated a post on the unit’s Facebook page.

Working closely with the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office and probation office, the task force has already enrolled 16 people for its first program which began earlier this week.

The carefully selected participants, who are scheduled to meet once a week for 16 weeks, will receive treatment and education on why it is Not Acceptable to harm animals.

“If they went to jail or were on probation, they aren’t getting any education or intervention,” Nicole Heath, a facilitator with CNY Animal Cruelty Task Force explained to localsyr.com.  “Hopefully this program will solve that problem and help them see there is a different way.”

Accepting accountability and changing beliefs toward animals as well as anger and stress management are among the issues that will be addressed throughout the 4-month program.

Research has indicated that the mistreatment of animals is a “gateway” to more crime which often leads to the abuse of children, partners or the elderly.

The hope is that by addressing specific behaviors of animal abusers early on will, it will, in turn, prevent these other types of crimes from happening.

Reportedly the first program of its type in the United States, it may become one of many to launch throughout the country.

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