Prisoners who train therapy dogs have made a supportive connection with a teenage cancer patient through a program called Pawsitive Change.
Dogs are the link between a group of inmates at California City Correctional Facility and a 14- year-old girl battling cancer, according to a People website article by Amy Jamieson.
“Trying to turn this frown around, but today has been a rough day,” said Chloe, the 14-year-old cancer patient, in a Facebook posting.
She made the post after undergoing a bone marrow transplant and suffering frequent nausea, itching and pain, the article reported.
Zach Skow, the founder of Pawsitive Change, told the inmates about Chloe, and they had a supportive response.
“We go into the visiting room, and the first thing we see is you smiling at us,” said Tod, an inmate in the program, according to the article. “Zach brought a life-size cardboard cut-out of you. Everyone has big smiles on their faces, and are truly happy to see us. It’s a good feeling.”
After Skow brought a cardboard cut-out of Chloe to the prison, many of the inmates were inspired to write her letters. So far, 30 inmates have put pen to paper and sent mail Chloe’s way, according the article.
“The two couldn’t be more different — but in life both have a strong connection to dogs,” stated the article. “Through an intense rehabilitation program created by Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue these inmates train dogs saved from death row.”
The cardboard cut-out gave the inmates an up close and personal connectivity with Chloe, motivating them to be emotionally supportive of her.
Coming from two diverse backgrounds, the inmates and Chloe find common ground in the care and training of rescue dogs.
“Chloe has given them a chance to bond together and honestly express themselves emotionally, something they very rarely do in prison, if ever,” Skow said. “She has given them an excuse to be vulnerable as a group, outside racial lines, which is very, very rare.
“Chloe follows our Pawsitive Change prison program religiously and knows who all of the dogs and inmates are,” Skow said, in the article.
In Chloe’s honor, Skow is hitting the road with her cardboard cut-out in hand to raise money for lymphoma research.