Operation Second Chance is saving death row cats

By Elisa Black-Taylor

Gwinnett County (Georgia) Detention Center began a new program in October 2013 that will benefit both death row cats, as well as their female inmates. This is an idea that has the potential to save thousands of cats, should the idea catch on in other areas.

Convicts foster rescue cats

Collage via Facebook

The program, called Operation Second Chance-Jail Dogs, began in 2010 between Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department and the Society of Humane Friends of Georgia. The death row dogs put into the program proved so successful that cats have now been added to provide companionship for the female prisoners.

The ladies in Unit 1A have been chosen to care for these euthanasia list rescues, and is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

For those of you not in the United States, these small detention center inmates are mostly in for non-violent offenses. Fraudulent checks, failure to pay child support, or unable to pay a fine for committing a non-violent crime. In other words, you’re putting the cats with women who most likely had a cat or dog at home who are incarcerated for under a year and are of no danger to the cats in their care.

The female inmates have already told Operation Second Chance they’re benefiting from the companionship a cat provides.

The cats in this program are rescued from death row from Gwinnett County Animal Control. Foster homes for cats and kittens are common in this area, with felines going to a temporary home until an adopter or rescue can be found. This new program is similar to normal foster care, except the foster moms are inmates.

While the cats are under the care of these ladies, Jaildogs.org has a website showing available felines and how anyone interested in one of their cats can be adopted. Jaildogs also encourages sponsorship of these cats. After viewing the available cats page, an application for adoption can be found here. A Facebook page set up by Amy Jackson can be found here.

This two minute YouTube video features the dog program where Gwinnett Detention Center staff describe the advantages for both animal and inmate. One part I found interesting is how inmates who may not have said two words to each other are now working in small groups to help the animals in their care. This encourages communication, as well as teaching the inmates the “art” of caring for cats, as well as communication skills.

I personally think this is a great idea, and wish more detention centers would consider doing this. Several months ago I reported on Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina where inmates are caring for a feral cat colony. Inmates are also used at many area shelters where I live, including the one in Greenville where the majority of our cats were saved.

From what I’ve seen, the cats at Gwinnett County aren’t kept in cages all of the time. They spend at least part of their day in a play room environment and even have cat toys to entertain them.

Do the readers like this idea? After keeping up with the number of cats euthanized in high kill shelters for the past three years, I believe this is an idea that should be brought up in other areas. The cats are given a second chance and the inmates are performing a valuable service to their community.


Facebook Discussion


Operation Second Chance is saving death row cats — 15 Comments

  1. “Warden? Bring me another cat. This one died.”

    “No, I don’t know what happened to it, it just died! I loved it SO MUCH!”

    “Please bring me another one.”


    “Warden? Bring me another cat. This one died.”

    “No, I don’t know what happened to it, it just died! I loved it SO MUCH!”

    “Please bring me another one.”

    “Thanks.” …

    Really? Wow.

    • I think you meant to say:

      “Warden? Bring me another cat. This one died.”

      “No, I don’t know what happened to it, it just died! I loved it SO MUCH!”

      “Please bring me another one.”


      • Nice. Thanks Marc. I have sneaking suspicion that the person who made the comment is that sad person with wood chippings for a brain.

        • I think so too – he always uses typical white person names. Of course now I said that it’s possible a Jamal Hassan etc who hates cats will suddenly appear sounding like an angry white man calling us ‘morons’.

        • lol wood chippings for a brain, that’s really tickled me 🙂
          I wondered if it was he who masquerades under many aliases

    • Hi Woody! Happy Thanksgiving (in case I forget), hope you’re doing well. You should write a book on how to create several aliases and still spew the same garbage. Woody, I really do thank you, because you back up my belief that cats should be kept indoors and away from people like you. This detention center also trains dogs rescued from the shelter. Do you also hate dogs? Do you LIKE anyone, including yourself? Gee, it must be horrible to be you. Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. Oops, that would be termites since your brain is full of sawdust 🙂

      • Thanks Elisa. Actually, over time I have come to believe that Woody might not even hate cats. He is more a professional troll than a cat hater – possibly. He just likes to wind up people on the internet. He might troll on many topics and on many different sites for all I know.

      • I just checked. It’s not showing up using Chrome browser, which I use most of the time. It IS showing up using Mozilla. So I don’t know what the issue is with that. Oh well, at least the link is there if it doesn’t show for anyone.

        • I think it’s a really good idea, the cats get a home, love and attention and the women get the comfort of the cats around.
          It would be good if more prisons where there are non violent, non animal abusers serving their sentence, did the same.

  2. I really like the idea because it shows imagination and it explores new ways to find homes for unwanted cats. The whole overpopulation of cats problem requires new and imaginative thinking to resolve it. This is the sort of thing that helps. We need more programs like this.

    Thanks for posting Elisa.

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