Inmates and Abandoned Animals Form Trusting Relationships Through This Amazing Program!
Posted by GreaterGoodness
When inmates at the Monroe County Jail in the Florida Keys sign up to work at the jail’s Animal Farm, they often expect to find a few pigs and maybe some other farmyard animals. Imagine their surprise when they find themselves instead taking care of snakes, alligators, alpacas and even a sloth.
The Monroe County Animal Farm formed very unofficially in 1994 when an officer rescued some ducks from being hit by passing cars and placed them in a vacant space under the building. Locals began passing on the word that the jail was now accepting animals, and people began to drop off all sorts of animals in need.
The jail, of course, wasn’t prepared to handle all the incoming traffic, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture was inclined to shut it down. Instead, the jail decided to bring in a curator, choosing Jeanne Selander, who had a marine biology degree. Although she was at first hesitant to work with inmates, she told the Monroe County sheriff that she could bring the fledgling zoo up to code and create something special if he let her. With the thumbs up, Selander started to bring in new animals and put inmates to work caring for them.
As of 2016, the jail’s “zoo” has more than 150 animals in residence, ranging from barnyard favorites such as ducks, pigs and rabbits to more exotic species such as kinkajous, snakes and, of course, the popular sloths. Aside from Selander, inmates do all the work, keeping the animals healthy and ready for the more than 300 visitors they receive every weekend.
The zoo runs purely on donations, with no taxpayer money involved, and the inmates involved with the animals are proud of their work, crediting it as playing a large part in their rehabilitation.Both the animals that are dropped off and the inmates working at the Monroe County Animal Farm are getting second chances.
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