Inmates, Animals Forge Extraordinary Partnership in Louisiana

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas. Publicado en Relación.

inmates In programs like A New Leash on Life, Pathways to Hope, Puppies Behind Bars, and Second Chance Partnership, prisoners have an opportunity to learn new skills, to show compassion, and to bear responsibility—qualities that can be developed from working with dogs, horses and other companion animals, and attributes that will stand them in good stead when they are released.

http://www.hsus.org/hsus_field/hsus_disaster_center/disasters_press_room/katrina_anniversary/katrina_dci_prision.html

 

Inmates, Animals Forge Extraordinary Partnership in Louisiana

 

August 27, 2007

Special Series—Katrina: A Look Back, Forward


 

 

inmates
The HSUS/C. Sisneros
Richard Palmer, one of many inmates who
cared for Katrina's animal victims at DCI.

By Debra Parsons-Drake

In programs like A New Leash on Life, Pathways to Hope, Puppies Behind Bars, and Second Chance Partnership, prisoners have an opportunity to learn new skills, to show compassion, and to bear responsibility—qualities that can be developed from working with dogs, horses and other companion animals, and attributes that will stand them in good stead when they are released.

The payoff is reciprocal. The dog, or horse, becomes more adoptable. Some lucky person gets a chance to take in an animal who may have been, under other circumstances, just one more sad story, unwanted or unadoptable.

Unlikely Sanctuary

During The Humane Society of the United States' emergency response to Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, the HSUS shelter management team was desperate to find new quarters for 160 dogs and 40 birds, the overflow from an increasingly crowded temporary shelter at Gonzalez, La.

Thanks to the willingness of Warden James LeBlanc of the Dixon Correctional Institute, 60 miles north, the animals found a comfortable shelter in a huge concrete dairy barn on the prison grounds.

Inmate volunteers were trained by veterinarians and animal behaviorists in the care and handing of the refugee dogs and birds. Runs and cages were built and cleaned; sick and frightened animals were treated and calmed; the unexpected prison guests were fed, watered, and played with, and the spirits of animals and inmates rose.

Partnership Forged from Flood

From this extraordinary episode, a partnership between The HSUS, DCI, and the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine was forged. It will expand the temporary shelter role of the prison into a combined commitment to long-term efforts to protect the animals of southern Louisiana. It will develop a comprehensive training program for future veterinarians in shelter environments, while providing programs to promote the rehabilitation of those incarcerated at DCI.

The first step in this process is the construction of a temporary emergency shelter with capacity for 300-500 companion animals. This facility will be made available to accommodate evacuated and rescued pets during future storms or emergency situations in Louisiana.  In such events, The HSUS will work with DCI on plans to expand the shelter to accommodate a still larger number of animals if circumstances demand.

Step two in the process is additional construction of a permanent facility with a capacity of up to forty animals, designed for year-round use. Animals brought to this facility on a rotating basis through agreements with local humane groups and shelters will benefit from socialization and interaction with inmates.

Model Behavior

 

inmates2
www.BadRap.com/ Donna Reynolds
Hemi is a pit bull graduate of the DCI program

This project offers inmates a long-term opportunity to incorporate animal care and handling, as well as training and socialization, into their rehabilitation regimen. Inmates naturally bond with the animals they work with, but then, they have to let them go. This emotional tug-of-war will be played out many times, but in each case, another needy animal will be there to fill the void.

The post-Katrina experience of Hemi (pictured at right), a pit bull graduate of the DCI program, is a powerful reminder of the good that can come from adversity, and the tremendous potential of the new partnership for helping animals and people.

Center for Learning

The permanent facility at DCI will feature a fully equipped surgical suite. DCI and the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine will work with local groups to create a program to provide medical and spay/neuter services furnished by veterinary students under the direction of faculty. LSU currently offers an off-site scheduled rotation for students, and DCI will become a satellite location in the future. Students will have a venue in which to hone their surgical skills as well as work within the realm of shelter-based medicine.

The Humane Society of the United States has made a financial commitment of $600,000 to construct and equip the facilities at DCI, which will be dedicated to the citizens of Louisiana. These funds represent the generous contributions of people across the country who are committed to the ideals of basic animal welfare and support the efforts to plan for animal welfare before, during, and after a disaster.


 

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