Good morning readers. I’d like to tell you a story today about a remarkable man in Maricopa County, Arizona. I really hope Hollywood eventually makes a movie about him.
Writing this story makes me smile because it’s the first of it’s kind I’ve found. I come from an area that uses county prison inmates at the local animal shelter. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona has taken this one step further.
Sheriff Arpaio is making a lot of enemies in the way he’s changing the jail under his jurisdiction. He’s also making a lot of fans. He’s the first to admit he’d have been fired by now if his position was appointed rather than elected. In the last election he received 83% of the vote.
His jail has gone to the cats and dogs!
Sheriff Apraio has turned his jail into a shelter for cats and dogs who are the silent victims of criminal domestic violence. I’ve also read that strays are now included in those placed under his care.
This is the same sheriff who dyed the inmates boxer shorts pink because of the high rate of undergarments to come up missing. I won’t spend a lot of time on his career history as that would be enough to write a book. Please feel free to Google his name and you’ll learn all you need to know. Joseph M. Arpaio.
This is the same sheriff who told prisoners living in a “tent city” he created to quit complaining about the heat inside of the tent by rationalizing American troops in Iraq live in similar conditions and they haven’t done anything wrong. http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/arpaio.asp
Today I want to talk about the program he’s started for the cats and dogs now housed in his jail who come from a violent past. The animals are being held as evidence in criminal domestic violence cases and are now living the good life. Sheriff Arpaio moved the animals into the air conditioned First Avenue jail and the female prisoners there are having a ball painting flowers, trees, and fire hydrants on the jail walls to help the animals feel more comfortable.
Awhile back the old cells were closed down for human inmates due to plumbing problems. It was then that Sheriff Arpaio decided to turn it into a makeshift shelter for the dogs and cats. The cells are air conditioned and the cats and dogs have beds to lay on.
The prisoners are giving a thumbs up to the new program. They are learning animal nutrition and care and are saving the taxpayers money. Maricopa County was spending $18 million dollars a year on stray animals and now the cost is under $3 for the entire department. Most of this is operating expense and not directly related to the animal program. Prisoners earn roughly $0.28 per hour, but most would work for free as the experience has been educational and rewarding.
The entire animal shelter is now under the care of the prisoners. For those coming from abusive relationships, once a case is tried and an animal is ready for adoption, the average cost is $78. This covers the fee for spay/neuter, shots, vet exam and microchipping.
Sheriff Arpaio pays the prisoners from the fees collected for adopted animals. The adoption process at the jail is unique. Anyone wanting to adopt one of the animals must take a class given by the inmates, who are very knowledgeable about animal nutrition and behavior.
The dogs under their care are walked twice a day and the cats spend the day being petted and held by the women prisoners. It’s definitely a win-win situation.
Sheriff Arpaio has also been in the news being investigated on everything from the ACLU for his stand against illegal immigration to homeland security issues. So he is a VERY controversial character with an unusual way of getting things done.
Speaking of unusual, I have to close this article with a YouTube. I’m sorry I couldn’t locate any involving the cats and dogs being cared for by the inmates. So I’ll leave you today with American Idol-jail style. Also a link to the YouTube page with videos of his prison city and many more on this controversial sheriff.
I hope everyone enjoys this article. I had to take another break from all of the bad going on in the animal world. I welcome comments on this approach. Should this program become the norm for jails everywhere? Or is this sheriff out of his mind?
Have a great day everyone!