World’s only animal shelter located in the grounds of a prison

Animal shelter inside a prison in the USA
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It is called a “correct(ional) approach to animal sheltering”. I like that. This is an animal shelter within the medium security Dixon Correctional Institute, run by a prison warden and staffed by some of the prisoners. It has been running since 2010.

I like the term: “correctional institute” but I wonder how much correcting of bad behavior takes place. Although saving the lives of animals must help in the prison’s goal of rehabilitating the participating inmates. A couple of the offenders have gone on to train at vet tech school. That is genuine rehabilitation.

It was hoped that working in the shelter would turn the inmates to being more gentle. It appears there are more applicants amongst the offenders than jobs at the shelter.

Animal shelter inside a prison in the USA
Click picture for a bigger image.
Animal shelter inside a prison in the USA
Click picture for a bigger image.

The animal shelter came about because the well-known Hurricane Katrina devastation placed demands on the existing shelters which could not be met. Wayne Pacelle, the President and CEO of the Humane Society recalls his experience in his blog of going up to the correctional institute looking for people and places to help in rescuing animals after the hurricane.

In cooperation with Warden James M. LeBlanc, who at the time was managing Louisiana’s prison service, Mr Pacelle made arrangements for the construction of a new shelter in a parish (East Feliciana Parish) which at the time had no animal shelter capacity.

The Humane Society donated funds for construction and materials. Recently The HSUS and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association provided further funding of $150,000 over three years. The shelter works in association with a Pen Pals, Inc. a non-profit organization. Colonel John Smith is the manager of the program.

This unique animal shelter continues to be beneficial to animal and human alike. Wayne Pacelle hopes that this excellent use of the vast labor pool at prisons is copied in other states and counties.

There are many examples of animals helping people psychologically. This is another one. It is a great idea which has proved successful.

I can recall another partnership of a similar kind described by Elisa in an article written a while ago. It concerns Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona who turned a part of a prison into an animal shelter. If that is correct then Wayne Pacelle is incorrect in saying that the Dixon Correctional Institute shelter is the only animal shelter in a prison, but who cares. They are both great. One last thing: unsurprisingly there appears to be a preponderance of dogs at the shelter.

https://youtu.be/bp3We5QqL48

My thanks to Dee for telling me about this special shelter.

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5 thoughts on “World’s only animal shelter located in the grounds of a prison”

  1. To me this is one of the best programs out there. It seems to be a win-win situation. The animals have a place to interact and have a human companion and the prisoner gain some self worth in caring and training the animal. The prisoner feels a sense of purpose and at the same time realizes there is more to life than crime. It is my belief that people that commit crimes are seeking attention in some way and having the responsibility of caring for a dog that gives him or her the love they are both seeking is heart warming.

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  2. I think it’s especially great that some ex-inmates are now training to be vet techs. This is a real success story for the programme.

    I’ve seen programmes on TV before where inmates groom, train and socialise young dogs for local rescues. I think there are a number of prisons operating similar schemes, but the dogs don’t all live on site.

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  3. This is a really heartwarming story. People and animals in need, helping each other move towards a brighter future 🙂

    I’d like to see more correctional facilities follow suit. Not only would it help rehabilitate people, but it might help with the over-crowding that shelters are currently experiencing on an epic scale.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more. In retrospect it is a bit strange that there is only one (or two) prisons doing this. There is a known need for more shelters in the USA and more adoptions. I am sure prisoners are much better off being active and doing satisfying work. It seems a no-brainer to me.

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  4. This is an approach that benefits everyone. I hope to see it happening at other prisons. Humane Society US has a lot of money, and Wayne Pacelle makes a huge salary. They need the good PR, since there’s been some not so good.

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