Venezuelan Prisons Embrace Innovative Approach: Inmates Care for Dogs, Unveiling Profound Connections Amidst Adversity

by Lisa

Venezuela, a nation grappling with economic, political, and social crises for over two decades, is breaking ground in the realm of penitentiary initiatives. While the dynamic between inmates and dogs is not novel when compared to programs in other countries, what sets Venezuela apart is the innovative approach of assigning prisoners the responsibility of caring for a dog—a task that can be akin to an “extreme sport” within the challenging environment of Venezuelan prisons.

Prisons across Latin America are often marked by violence and precarious living conditions. This essay does not delve into those well-documented challenges. Instead, it sheds light on an unconventional aspect of prison life through the lens of the relationship between prisoners and dogs, as showcased by the project “Mi Perro.”


“Mi Perro” offers a comprehensive and nuanced perspective on prison existence, revealing how bonds and the human need for connection can transcend the barriers imposed by incarceration. This exploration not only deepens our understanding of the human experience in extreme circumstances but also challenges the conventional perception of prison as a realm of exclusion and unmitigated punishment.


Grounded in regular field research and photographic documentation, the project underscores the possibility of forging connections from an alternative standpoint with individuals who may not conform to societal norms. In this unique context, the dog assumes the role of a mediator, enabling alignment and fostering a sense of shared humanity.


The project delves into the delicate balance between good and bad within each person, contemplating the essence of humanity and the potential outcomes if individuals were afforded opportunities and made the right choices. It beckons us to reflect on our commonalities and imperfections mirrored in a four-legged companion that accepts us, providing a semblance of home in a setting far removed from family and familiar surroundings.


The fundamental question arises: if the dog, as a companion, receives sustenance and care, what does it offer in return to the prisoner who tends to it? In the absence of family and familiar surroundings, the dog becomes a source of solace, reminding us of our shared needs and vulnerabilities. The research seeks to capture the essence of belonging that the dog reciprocates in this unique relationship.

As “Mi Perro” navigates through diverse penitentiaries, it unveils the profound and inherently human response—finding refuge in a non-judgmental being that needs our care. The opportunity to mean something to another life often becomes the lifeline that saves us.

Beyond the immediate narrative, “Mi Perro” prompts reflection on our interconnectedness with the natural world and how our relationships with other species can transcend societal and cultural barriers. This perspective holds global implications for animal ethics, human connections with nature, and the imperative to foster a more harmonious and respectful coexistence among all forms of life. The overarching goal is to instigate a global conversation about justice, empathy, and coexistence in a diverse world.


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