I guess it depends on how you look at it.
MAYBE the judge was hoping to de-objectify (is that even a word?) the dogs in the minds of the convicted. See them as animals, with personalities, etc. and not just a "fighting machine".
It might work if the person had a conscience (no psychopathy checklist done, so hard to tell!)
Also, they are supervised (hopefully) by staff so the staff member would be able to report their findings (person didn't care, didn't clean properly, etc. etc. or the exact opposite).
When I was a parole officer, I had a number of parolees who wanted to work with the Humane Society and the HS wouldn't let them because they had a criminal record.
I worked with a rescue group and they were THRILLED that a bunch of people would help walk dogs, etc. I was totally up front with them about the "clientele" that would be volunteering their time.
It worked out really well. There were a couple of incidents ... mainly lack of education of the parolees's part ... nothing major and everyone learned and moved forward.
There was ONE parolee who admitted that he had killed his dog. The other parolees were STUNNED .. a) that he did it and b) that he admitted to it. THEY watched him like a hawk ... and he knew they were watching him.
A year later he finished parole and continued working with the rescue.
I'm not saying it's ALWAYS the best answer, but sometimes working with animals - that are non-judgemental - can really be the key to helping someone turn around.
Marion’s Zoo-Kyleigh, Raylan-cat, Echo-TAG,