Inmates and Animals

When you think of the work that goes on inside of a state prison, you usually think of guys making license plates. But that's not the case at the Bay Correctional Institute.

In fact, some of the work isn't even going on inside the prison. The local state prison already has a program called the "cell dog program" that helps train dogs to aid disabled people.

Now some of the inmates have volunteered to go to work nearby, at the new Bay County Animal Shelter.

Every day, five days a week, Bay Correctional Institute sends inmates to the new animal shelter. It's not so much of a chore to the inmates, as it is a way to share time with the animals who also know what it's like to be behind bars.

Mary Kirklin of the animal shelter says workers welcome their help.

"With 100 cat cages and 100 dog kennels, it's a full time job, and these gentlemen come in and give it 100 percent of their time."

The extra help is a two-way street. The county is saving almost $100,000 a year by not having to hire full-time employees, and the inmates get a chance to interact with the animals and work and train dogs for the disabled.

The inmates are considered to be low-risk minimum security individuals. They are carefully screened before being allowed to help out with the animals, and a corrections officer stays with the inmates at all times.

The inmates say just like the animals they're helping, they just want a second chance.