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Inmates come to animal shelter rescue:

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  • Inmates come to animal shelter rescue:

    By Kris O'Donnell
    Provided by Zootoo Pet News

    ST. CLOUD, Fla. -- With a sour economy and a shrinking budget, one Central Florida county has come up with a novel way to keep its animal shelter open and running smoothly.

    That's because Osceola County has looked to its jail for help.

    "Without them, it would almost be impossible," Assistant Veterinary Technician Vickie Dryer said. "They have assisted us in so many areas we couldn't do alone."

    The inmates work all day at Osceola County Animal Control, doing everything from cleaning cages to refilling water bowls.

    "It makes me feel good to give them clean water and food every day," inmate Michael Betancourt said.

    "The biggest thing is taking care of the animals, the cleaning, also exercising them, giving them a lot of human companionship and contact," Dryer said.

    The program has been in operation since the end of August after the county made massive budget cuts, including at animal control. Without the help of the inmates the shelter might have closed.

    "By doing this, we have been able to not only get the inmates occupied into something positive but at the same time make sure that the animals are getting the treatment that they deserve," Osceola County Chairman John Quinones said.

    The program is voluntary and all the inmates are non-violent offenders. For every 30 days they serve, they get five days taken off their sentences. In addition, they're happy to be outside and working with the animals.

    "It's been a real good experience," inmate Benjamin Stallman said. "I'll wake up at 4 a.m. and want to come out here and clean up after the dogs. I mean, they're all sweetheart dogs."

    Osceola County residents are also supportive of the program.

    "It gives them something to do and give back to the community," said resident Carlos Hernandez. "And I'm sure the shelter can use all the help they can."

    As the economy continues to limp along, county officials say their program could become a trend across the country.

    As we continue to see the economic situation the way it is that you are going to have to have creative methods in government to save money but at the same time provide a level of service the citizens deserve," Quinones said.

    In the end, proponents say the program works because it succeeds on many levels, not just economically.

    "I would describe it as a win-win situation for the animals, for the inmates as well as our shelter and continue to be a service to the public," Dryer said.

    Osceola county officials say the county is saving one hundred thousand dollars a year with the program and they plan to continue it indefinitely.
    "We are all ignorant--we merely have different areas of specialization."~Anonymous
    People, PLEASE..It's ONLY a website!~Me

  • #2
    Sounds like a good program that is working well. I watched a Dog Whisperer where Caeser went to a women's prison that had a program where the inmates worked w/dogs that needed rehabilitation before they could be placed for adoption. It seemed like they had a good thing going there as well that benefited both the women and the dogs.
    SheilaB from SC


    • #3
      I think is a wonderful idea. There was just a story in Dog Fancy magazine (March issue) about inmates keeping dogs in their cell's with them and working with them to become service dogs or just fostering dogs until they can be placed in a home. It's a win-win situation. The shelter dogs get to be out of the shelter and around people, and the dogs become trained and able to be placed in good homes. The prisoner's are learning a skill, and they are learning about empathy and compassion. I hope this really catches on in all states and perhaps every prison, so that more and more homeless dogs can get a second chance.


      • #4
        They do this for horses too ... California. The B. L. M. will round up mustangs off the range and transfer them to holding pens where the inmates will them for adoption. They are taught by the natural horsemanship experts to tame and train them so that they are adoptable for the public.

        After my dear, sweet "Wind" passed away on 2/8, this was an avenue (or trail) that I planned to go on when the time is right. Once the horses are trained, they will go up for auction in Reno, California. It will be a little bit of a drive for me, but my truck and horse trailer should do just fine. In fact, the experience would be fun for me.

        Donna Smith, C. A. H.
        Co-author of 2 Lion-Hearted Groomers ... Leigh & Eileen's Journey

        The beauty of 2LHG is that people, pets, horses and the experiences that I knew and had are included into this story. Wind is featured in the "Journey."


        • #5
          Great idea. We could use them in all different industries. Here in Utah they only make pennies a day. Heck, who needs to hire non-incarcerate persons. They just want silly stuff like benefits, holiday pay, 401K, etc. In no time the only way to get a job will be to break the law and get sent to jail.
          "The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog." -Ambrose Bierce


          • #6
            Dang, Keyray. They are in jail anyhow...

            Deberdoo, I would love to think some of these guys are learning compassion, but, some of them are just getting shorter sentences and fighting boredom. Either way less dogs and cats are dying because now we have the man power to take care of them. I hope it catches on.
            "We are all ignorant--we merely have different areas of specialization."~Anonymous
            People, PLEASE..It's ONLY a website!~Me