This fall, Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester will launch an educational intervention program for people convicted of crimes against animals.
The misdemeanors stem from cases of pets not getting proper veterinary care, food, shelter, or water.
"Maybe it's someone who leaves their pet in a hot car in the summertime," said Kim Ferris-Church, Lollypop Farm's humane education manager.
Sometimes the convictions result from animal cruelty that involves violence. In the past three decades, research has established significant correlations between animal abuse and violence toward people.
That's why the Humane Society and the Monroe County Office of Probation are partnering to bring the intervention program to Rochester. The curriculum was developed by Animals & Society Institute, an Illinois-based nonprofit.
"The sessions include things like learning about blame versus accountability, and learning about sympathy, empathy, and compassion," said Ferris-Church. "At one point we actually put ourselves in the perspective of the animal, becoming the victim."
The weekly sessions will run for three months. The two instructors will have master's degrees in pychiatric mental health nursing. The Rochester pilot program will be the second nationwide, according to Ferris-Church. The Humane Society is hoping that judges will require defendants convicted of animal crimes to attend the sessions as part of their sentence.
On Monday evening, Lollypop Farm is hosting an invitation-only event where leaders from local law enforcment, criminal justice, and government can learn about how their organizations can utilize the program.
In 2018, the humane law enforcement officers at Lollypop Farm investigated 896 cases of abuse and neglect and removed 338 animals from their homes.