Maricopa County MASH Unit pairs veteran inmates with abused dogs

Every Wednesday, the veteran inmates housed in Maricopa County’s Towers Jail get a treat. They get down on their knees to stroke, cuddle and hug the dogs – from chihuahua to pitbull mixes – staying in the MASH Unit.

It helps the inmates with post-traumatic stress disorder, officials said. And the dogs learn to cope with humans so they can one day be adopted.

MASH – Maricopa Animal Safe Haven – takes in abused and neglected animals seized from their prior owners through the Animal Crimes Investigations Unit. Sheriff Joe Arpaio instituted MASH 15 years ago, and the animals are now housed in an air-conditioned facility at First Avenue Jail until they’re ready for adoption.

Female inmates take care of the dogs. And now these male inmates can hang out with the canines in the veteran pods of the Towers Jail.

Bill McGowan served his country in the 1990s and developed PTSD, a neurological condition that has many side effects, including anger. Mr. McGowan said the Wednesday visits help him with his disorder.