When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

The Italian Prison That Teaches Inmates To Walk Your Dogs

It's 1:05 p.m. and lessons are starting slightly late today at the dog-sitter course. But this is not your usual dog sitting class: It's taking place at Bollate prison, just north of Milan.

Every Thursday until November, 18 inmates will spend four hours (two hours of practical lessons and two hours of theory) learning until they "graduate" with a diploma from the National Sports Education Center (CSEN).

Animal-assisted therapy has long been advocated in helping piece together shattered lives — or simply aiding social, emotional and cognitive functioning. Dogs, obviously, are among the most widely used pets, though recently the Italian website Italy Journal reported that donkeys were being considered for use.

The lessons here at Bollate prison include animal care, pet therapy and lectures from veterinarians, trainers and teachers. The students seem to thoroughly enjoy their training, as evidenced in an article from Italian daily La Stampa, after journalist Antonella Mariotti paid a visit to the inmates that will become the prison's first qualified pet therapists.

Vito Catorre, 51, remembers that before he was behind bars, "I was good with animals — I even trained geese. When I get out, I want to live in the countryside with lots of animals."

The dogs that the class work with are called Bible — who has curlers in his hair to keep it in shape — and Rosie, a greyhound rescued from the commercial racing industry in Britain.The prisoners file into the room as class begins; one of them stops to pet Bible.

"Did you know it's been 10 years since I've pet a dog?" he says. He bends down, almost kneeling and Bible responds by rolling onto his back to have his belly rubbed.

Another student here is Otis Opoku Ackah, 34, who has been at the facility since 2007. "In Ghana I had so many animals: two dogs, a cat, goats. I'm so happy to be around animals again. What will I do when I get out? Maybe I will have learned dog sitting so well that I'll be able to teach it to others!" he jokes.

During the class, Claudio, the groom at Bollate comes in — yes, in this prison you can also learn how to take care of horses. "You never know who's helping whom," smiles Nicolò Vergagni, ethologist and biologist. "Once a week," he says, "these animals just take away the pain that's in here."

Main photo: Alberto Gottardo (All Rights Reserved)

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ