MASH – Animal Safe Haven

MASH – Animal Safe Haven

Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Maricopa County in Arizona, is best known for his unique approach to housing and treating inmates in correctional facilities. One of his better known programs that he created is called the A.C.E. Posse – known as the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Posse.

The program is designed to help reduce and eliminate animal cruelty in Maricopa County. Several abused and neglected pets, from cats, dogs, ducks and goats have been rescued and stay in the animal safe heaven which is designed for these animals to become rehabilitated and become available for future adoption. The MASH (Maricopa County Animal Safe Hospice) unit is a no-kill facility that uses women inmates to care for the abused and abounded animals that are rescued by the animal cruelty prevention posse.


 “Correctional institutions provide an ideal environment to change [animal] behavior,” says Stephanie LaFarge, Ph.D., director of ASPCA counseling services. “The animal doesn’t feel like he’s in jail…just the opposite. What we think of as a negative environment, the animal thinks is wonderful.

The women inmates that care for the animals are currently serving time in Maricopa County’s tent city correctional facilities. The women work 12-hour shifts where they tend to the animals wounds/illness’s, clean cages, teach basic obedience skills and give the animals love and compassion so that they can overcome their fears and aggressive behaviors.

This combination is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The women inmates gain a sense of self-improvement and pride in helping train these animals. They also receive unconditional love from the animals. The dogs, cats and other critters recieve love, caring and tenderness – something they have never felt before.

Once the animals are healthy and have received training, they are spayed/neutered and are put up for adoption. They stay with their inmate caretakers throughout the time until they are ready for adoption.

More and more correctional facilities are embracing pet programs. These programs provide rehabilitation for the inmates and the animals. This type of powerful partnership can vastly reduce the rate of recidivism and help public awareness as to prevention of animal cruelty and abandonment.

Animals that have been cared for by compassionate inmates have a chance to become very useful  = as service animals or just as loving pets and companions. And the inmates that care for these animals develop valuable social and personal development skills that make them contributing members of society. A truly beautiful partnership.