"The women see it as a chance to help not only the abandoned pets, but also the hurricane relief effort and even themselves.Read more about the Pen Pals program, which allows inmates of the Virginia Dept. of Corrections to care for and train animals from Virginia pounds and shelters.
"They've had a long journey," said inmate Wendy Brickey, 45, her eyes brimming with tears. "I get the chance to make it OK."
When word of the hurricane reached the prison, about 20 miles south of Richmond, some inmates donated what little money they had to the victims. There wasn't much else they could do — until the cats arrived.
"Had I been at home, I probably would have gone down and helped," inmate Tuesday Kilgore, 35, said as she reclined in a chair next to her favorite cat, Skye. "This gives me responsibility and gives me motivation to go out and live a so-called normal life."
"It makes us feel like we can be a part of something — to be a part of the storm — to help out," Brickey said. "We are so secluded from the world and there's somebody waiting on their pets. And while I might never meet them, I took care of them while they're getting their life together."
So far, nine of the Mississippi cats have been adopted, and Lynch hopes someday they'll all go to good homes. At least one other prison — Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, La. — has taken in pets displaced by Katrina, according to the Humane Society. More than 200 animals have taken shelter in a converted dairy barn at that prison.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
About 24 cats who are in need of homes due to hurricane Katrina arrived at the Pocahontas Correctional Unit (no, I didn't make it up, it's the real name!) in Chesterfield, Virginia.