The animal, a precious companion for reintegration, both in prison and after the release.

We facilitate interactions between humans and animals and make animal mediation an essential component of their post release reintegration.

Photo of Patricia Arnoux
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible
  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name


Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • France

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?

Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Oermingen, Béziers, Paris,

Website or social media url(s)

Date Started


Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €100k - €250k

Organisation Type

  • nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Introducing animals in a closed environment like a prison and believing in the huge benefits they will bring for everyone involved, was always an evidence for us - hence the name of the association. In 2008, after the suicide of two minor prisoners, the Strasbourg prison contacted us with the idea of introducing animal mediation. The aim was to prevent any more suicides, but also hopefully reduce tensions and violence within the prison, and make the whole environment feel more human for everyone.In 2010, what used to be an experiment became an official program called « L’animal compagnon de réinsertion »' which received the “Justice Initiatives” second prize in 2011.Ten years later, the program is still running and is constantly evolving.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Convicts could be released prior to completing the full program. Due to discontinuity in the support they receive, there is a high risk that they will reconnect with their old network, slip into their already existing bad habits which could lead them straight back to delinquency. It is absolutely necessary to find more ways to help prepare the prisoners for their release and to support them with their newly retrieved life into our society.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

To extend our support to outside the prison walls, to ensure a more successful reintegration for everyone, on a human as well as an economic and social level. The program allows convicts to feel responsible by having to care for an animal, to establish respectful relationships with those animals and, by extension, with other human beings; to fight loneliness and to slowly re-implement various social rules which may have been non-existent in the past; therefore participating in their future reintegration. By practicing respect of other human beings, representations, by learning to manage their emotions and pulsions, we help build the prisoners’ strong emotional and social competences which decreases the risk of them committing acts of violence again, for instance. The support and encouragement we provide with animal mediation would then be continued outside. With the help of the animals as always, we would organise the sessions in places targeting nature and various publics in order to recreate healthy social encounters and get-togethers. We are also working closely with our dedicated partners specialized in reintegration, while being aware of the current existing solutions

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Our project is an innovation because it breaks barriers and biases: being incarcerated is the punishment inflicted by society, however the convicts are human beings before anything else, and will become citizens again in the future. The fact alone that animals can help prisoners feel human again in such a closed and difficult environment is an innovation in itself. Moreover, the animals are not at all considered as a “tool” to be used by us humans, but instead receive as much as they give and rebuild themselves apace with the convicts. By continuing this work of animal-human reconstruction at the end of prison, ex-prisoners will participate in the transformation and positive evolution of the human-animal link with a societal impact.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

The powerful connection between animals and human beings will: - Encourage responsibility and revaluation of self while caring for an animal, - Trigger a personal rebuilding phase, helped with an increased self-confidence, as a result of the animal not being able to make judgements on the convicts, - Allow the identification of common behavioral situations and the knowledge of how to approach them, - Inspire the communication of hidden emotions as well as emotional intelligence, - Trigger a new improved general behavior - Initiate a work on themselves, the reintegration of social rules in order to help their relationships inside the prison as well as outside. - Have a positive impact on the prison staff - Overcome the too commonly existing bias in regards to prisoners, animals, detention and chances of successful reintegration - Support the development of communication and emotional skills, which are extremely useful in our society. - Animals indirectly encourage the prisoners to find and embrace their humanity; therefore they take an important role in their successful reintegration as citizens in society.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Social and society impacts: - Go back to respecting social rules, learning avoidance strategies and discourage violence - abused animals have a chance to rebuild themselves - Break the common bias on prisoners and animals alike. - Change the prisoner’s vision of themselves, reintroduce them to society rules that will facilitate their release. Indicators: - strong interest in our action in the Strasbourg prison and in the rest of the country. - many prisoners asserting the benefits of mediation and fondly remember them. - amount of rescue animals which fully recovered thanks to the prisoners input. - The words they use to describe the sessions: a bubble, relaxing, activity like no other, no judgement, they enjoy learning about the different needs different animals can have;they mention the changes they will implement when they get released, especially in regards to animals.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Step 1: We maintain our position and push our development by: Guiding and supporting prisons in implementing their animal mediation project Offering an accredited training Defining a clear structure for the profession and developing the network Step 2: We define the “after-release” project: Identify, train and support the convicts who are motivated Rent a local where we can have animal mediation sessions, take care of the animals and support the members. Extend our partners network, create bridges for the ex-convicts to be able to work on their citizen life and feel supported.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

The sessions improve the general atmosphere while in detention The prisoners are recognized as a normal person, they feel useful, valued and accepted, the animal does not judge. The conditions for the convict to grow are combined. The prison staff sees prisoners and animals differently and more positively. The animals are cared for, healed, protected, respected. Seeing the human being in a convict or ex-convict allows them to be defined by who they are or who they would like to become, as opposed to what they may have done in the past. It represents a challenge and an evolution both the person and for society. The cost of a released convict is minimal for the nation. Mental health improves for these people.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

As an association based on the local civil code of Alsace Moselle (67),France, we are constantly seeking sponsorship in order to be able to start actioning our plans without having to wait for the budget to be released. By demonstrating the shared value we provide and the impact we make, we are expecting a better use of the state credits in favor of this action. The same applies to the sponsors currently supporting us and/or those who will in the future. Our action is mainly presented to public organisations.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Patricia ARNOUX, full-time director of the EVI’DENCE association, project leader and animal mediation worker in prison -Marie-Thérèse DORFFER, full-time employee of the association. Animal mediation worker in prison -Claude ARNOUX, volunteer in charge of development and administrative and financial functions of the association. -Geneviève CASANO, President of the association - Marie-Josée STEIMER, Treasurer of the association

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

Proving that an innovating association looking for fundings on its own can manage to get its actions financed and then receive further permanent sponsorships. Increasing our visibility, and the recognition of our actions in the prison, reintegration fields, also the general public, in the hopes to receive state fundings. Further developing the program and digging deeper into our idea by implementing a “post-release” program. Actively participating in changing the bias on prisoners, animals, reintegration, human behaviours in general. Transforming the link between humans and animals, in general and outside of detention, so that humans can build a respectful relationship with the animal as opposed to using them.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

Take as an example a prisoner who is on the animal mediation course. Showing a keen interest in animals, their needs and their touch helps the prisoner to rebuild themselves. In addition to that, with the new programme, they could benefit from a time of coaching , in order for them to know themselves better, learn from their mistakes, identify and define goals, accept their emotions. In the meantime, they will gain knowledge of dogs and other animals (22 hours of training in total) in order for them to care for rescue, abused or sheltered animals once they get releaseed. After their release, we will together continue to work on their life goals, the obstacles they face and, in the meantime, we will give them the opportuinity to put their newly gained skills into practice, with our partner association « Lianes » in an environment where they will meet all types of individuals. Their reintegration will be gentle and supported as opposed to alone with no help or support whatsoever

14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?

The animals we work with have unfortunately either been abused, abandoned or suffering, chocked, hurt and then rescued by our association. They are being cared for and nursed by the prisoners who will be trained, while in prison, in the fundamental needs of sensitive, emotional and live animals; as opposed to seeing them as a tool humans can use and abuse. They can trust humans again and start a new life; it's a second chance for them: they are loved, cared for which might never have been the case before, for some of them. This program, based on human support and animal mediation, meets very precise criteria of good living conditions and respect of the animal's fundamental needs . The animal is a lively, sensitive and emotional being and not a tool. The prisoner who will take care of them will therefore have responsibilities and obligations towards them, which are listed in an official convention written and signed by them.

15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

In the process of reintegration, several possibilities can be offered: they can get help finding a job, finding accommodation, sometimes even receive financial assistance. They have to behave, to perform as if they never went to prison at all. Our innovation is to take this into consideration and teach them how to use their prison time as best as they can, so they can rebuild themselves and make animal mediation a significant element in their journey. Inside and outside, they will always have us as a point of reference, a meaningful activity; a place where they can socialize, be free to make mistakes and still be supported. It is innovative in the sense that we give the prisoners time to re-adapt and reintegrate, in a secured and trusted environment. They get a chance to define their needs and wishes before putting them into action. We take great care of considering the human being as a whole; we see their personal reshaping as a fundamental element of their reintegration.

16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.

For the individuals in prison and after their release, our main partner will be the "Lianes" association: - they are helping us train the prisoners on animal needs - they shelter cats and dogs and need volunteers to help - we will rent one of their locals to install our small animals (hamsters, cats...) so that the ex-prisoners can take care of them (keep them clean, feed them, establish a trusting relationship) - our weekly coaching sessions will be held in this local as well - we will oversee the maintenance of the pet house and the progress of the ex-prisoners. With this wide array of possibilities, this local will help the individual reconnect to a normal life, with mindfulness and responsibility, while creating a new dynamic for them. - Activ'Action is another potential partner which supports invididuals whom have fallen far away from employment. • In Oermingen, the pedagogical farm Ther-arc en-ciel

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

The project, started in 2008, has received the following prizes: - initiative Justice prize in 2011 delivered by the Ministry of Justice - 2013 Midi en France prize - 2014 prize (night of trophies) - Fémina and Europe 1 prizes in 2016 - Lauriers Fondation de France prize in 2019 -Talents d’Alsace in 2019 The new project, which includes our first project in addition to the training in animal needs, support in personal development inside and outside has no prize,he will begin soon

18. Your Self-Elevator Pitch (OPTIONAL): Share a 1-minute video that shares a quick summary of the problem you would like to solve, how you’ve chosen to solve it, and the impact you hope to see.

Who better than an animal collected by the EVI'DENCE Association, can pitch the animal mediation project in prison and after prison ? Listen...

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 60%

Yes/maybe - 40%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 60%

Yes/maybe - 20%

Maybe - 20%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 60%

Yes/maybe - 40%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Does this entry have potential to GROW & demonstrate LEADERSHIP?

Yes, absolutely! - 80%

Yes/maybe - 20%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. Is this entry VIABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 60%

Yes/maybe - 40%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 60%

Yes/maybe - 40%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

7. FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions or used an old model in a new way - 100%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 66.7%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 66.7%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 66.7%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 66.7%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 33.3%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 66.7%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: Your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 100%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 0%


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Photo of Dayana Beainy

Beautiful Project Patricia, very well presented media wise. wish you the best of luck.

Photo of Tommaso

We love this idea! It's a great opportunity to help people to reintegrate in their community and not to feel lonely.