Champion for Cats

A special program helps break the cycle of juvenile animal abuse.

By Debra J. White

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Two 10-year-old boys killed a kitten. Arizona's Maricopa County juvenile probation officer Dorothy Thompson shuddered at the heinous act, but incarcerating children was out of the question, and ignoring the crime wouldn't help the boys or other animals in their future. Instead, Thompson sought an age-appropriate intervention program. The Arizona Humane Society confirmed that nothing was available, but staff knew someone interested in starting such a program.

Less than a week later, Christina Risley Curtiss, Ph.D., associate professor of social work at Arizona State University in Tempe, called the probation department. That's how Children and Animals Together (CAT) began in early 2008.

Breaking the Cycle
An advisory group of local animal and child-welfare advocates developed a pilot program with lessons about kindness, respect and empathy toward animals and humans. Pam Gaber, president and founder of Gabriel's Angels, a program in Phoenix that delivers healing pet therapy to abused, neglected and at-risk children, suggested the boys listen to shelter animals' hearts with stethoscopes, an exercise pet teams use through Gabriel's Angels.

**Get the October 2010 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article.**

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