Dogs for inmates

Create empathy and sense of achievement in longterm inmates through interaction with dogs

Photo of Ann Reksten
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Written by

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

Ann Reksten Kjersti Fauske

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Norway

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?


Date Started


Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Enhance physical activity and wellness

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?

  • €10k - €50k

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.

I started a doggy daycare centre in 2017 and we employed people who fir different reasons had a hard time getting jobs. We saw how interacting with the dogs gave immense pleasure and a sense of achievement to the people working with the dogs and we thought that so many with longterm prison sentences never had much physical contact with people or animals so we started the pilot at a local prison and saw immediate changes in posture,mood,activity and it changed us and the inmates.

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

Longterm prisoners have little or no contact with animals and to connect with an animal you have to use your bodylanguage and give out good energy. Prisoners are taught to keep emotions in, not make eye contact and show no emotions. The interaction with dogs can stimulate their empathy and give them a sense of achievement.

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

We conduct a 6 week course once a week where each inmate has the same dog each time and we train basic obedience course and at the end we have a small agility competition where the inmates take their dog thru an agility course. The dogs are privately owned and the owners are very happy to see their dog having a purpose and receiving so much love and attention.

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

Our approach has come from being dogtrainers and we made the programme with the wellbeing of the dogs in first hand. Our method is working talking and interacting with the inmates in order for them to feel safe in opening up and feeling seen by us and the dogs. Being human through dogs is our method.

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)?

Empathy is what drives us and to work with your dog awakens their empathy,to collaborate with your dog gives them pride and a sense of achievement. The inmates are encouraged to talk about themselves and previous history with dogs from childhood,future dreams of having a dog,giving them hope. Our courses are outside and the dogs live the treats and attention so it's a win/win.

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?

We have letters from inmates that makes you cry and more prisoners want to use our services. Our dream is to have more instructors and dogs and expand to include schools with youth that might be on the wrong path. It's all volunteer work so far but hope we could expand and thrive only doing this.

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

Training courses for more instructors,diploma courses for the inmates so they could become instructors as well. Help to expand as its all volunteer work we have to work elsewhere so need more time to focus on our expansion.

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

To be able to sell our services to institutions so we can grow. The program can be implicated worldwide and bespoke to each institution. To create an arena for social entrepreneurs and make it a franchise under our umbrella.

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?

A franchise of dog trainers who offers courses for ordinary dog owners,dog daycare,health courses,collaborate with vets and offer full service dog centres including kennels for dogs while owners are away. Inmates would be able to work within the centre to get job training and basic skills

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?

3 dog trainers so far, volunteers once a week for 6 weeks. If we had funding we would like to have more time with the inmates. No board members.

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

To make the world aware of the impact interacting with dogs make. To hear the stories from the inmates how important the dogs have become and how it connects people ,how the love of a dog can change a person. The inmates talk about the dogs in between classes,read books on breeds,talk to their families about their progress and they connect with each other and their dogs.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

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

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. Is this entry VIABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 50%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

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 - 50%

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 - 50%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 50%

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 - 50%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 50%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 100%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 100%

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 - 100%

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 - 0%

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? - 100%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: Your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

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

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 0%

Attachments (1)


Letter from an inmate translated by me,name withheld as we cant give out names if inmates but I do have the original in Norwegian.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Charlotte Erika Walker

Great Project! Good Luck :)
Best Wishes,
Charlotte Erika Walker