Therapy Dogs Visit Arlington County Detention Facility

Published on June 23, 2023

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ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Detention Facility (ACDF) had some special four-legged visitors Wednesday as a local therapy dog organization, People Animals Love (PAL), interacted with those incarcerated.

PAL’s mission statement is "to use the human-animal bond to comfort the lonely, ease the pain of the sick and enrich people’s lives." Research shows that pet therapy can help develop residents’ thinking by providing a non-judgmental interaction based on unconditional love which promotes positive self-regard and trusting relationships. Jail-Based Behavioral Health Manager Aubrey Graham says, "Giving our inmate population experiences that bring them joy is important for their mental well-being and gives them hope for when they re-enter the community."

Programs such as this also gives volunteers in the DC/Maryland/Virginia community the chance to help those who will be re-entering society. Organizations who help with rehabilitation play a key role in residents’ chances of a successful second chance. One resident said, "I’m so grateful that they brought the dogs in, it really made my day, my month. Just seeing everyone smiling and happy and the dogs are so cute ... just makes me feel calm."

The leadership and deputies at the ACDF recognize that there are many residents who struggle with being lonely, feeling down, and mental illness, and they want to ensure they have stability and a foundation of support. Sheriff Jose Quiroz stated, "The mental and physical health of my staff and those incarcerated are of upmost importance to me, and programs like bringing in pet therapy dogs have a positive effect on everyone. These specially trained dogs can have a significant impact on the well-being of incarcerated individuals."


The ACDF has several other programs run by the Department of Human Services (DHS) Jail-Based Mental Health Team, including the Addiction Corrections Treatment (ACT), a 37-week substance use treatment program for clients with a diagnosis of Substance Dependence; and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), a joint venture with the Sheriff’s Office, DHS, and the medical vendor for those residents identified as having Opioid Use Disorder. All residents who have been assessed in the ACDF and have been determined to meet the criteria for serious mental illness are identified so services can be given while in custody and upon returning to the community.

MORE: DHS Substance Use Detention Facility Jail-Based Services

About the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO)

The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office manages the detention facility, provides security for the courts, and is responsible for the transportation of detainees and the service of civil process. ACSO also assists with traffic enforcement, event detail, and in a general law enforcement capacity in cooperation with the Arlington County Police, but are not the primary law enforcement department of Arlington County, Virginia.

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