Washington’s Kitsap Humane Society has new plans for stray cats: send them to prison. The initiative, a partnership with Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair, Washington, places stray cats and kittens with inmates for rehabilitation purposes until they are ready to be adopted.
At present, 10 felines are a part of the approach, which launched Oct. 28. Dubbed the Pawsitive Prison Program, the initiative serves as a beneficial form of therapy for the cats and prisoners alike. It began with 12 cats but two were adopted within the first few weeks of launching.
“The animals have had a very positive impact on the program participants,” Angela Hosking, a corrections unit supervisor at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women said. “The program has given a new sense of purpose for some, been therapeutic for others, and offered skill-building and experience to those who are interested in the veterinary field.”
The measure allows the cats to socialize and receive human love, care, and attention round-the-clock in the prisoner’s cells – things that will help them grow into well-adjusted adults. All while serving as a form of retribution for female caretakers.
“We definitely made mistakes,” said Shauna Teagle, imprisoned on drug dealing charges. “I feel this is my little bit of payback I can do.”
Teagle believes that caring for the cats has brought out her nurturing side, and will make her a better mother upon release.
Participation in the Pawsitive Prison Program is dependent upon two things to ensure the safety of the cats involved – applicants must be infraction-free for six months; and have no convictions for violent crimes against children, animals, or vulnerable adults.
“The kittens came from bad situations, and their behaviors have changed just like us,” Cydney Berthel, imprisoned on a theft conviction, told USA Today. “We’re nurturing them, and they’re nurturing us inmates. We’re rehabilitating the lives of these little kittens and rehabilitating our lives too. It’s [the program] a win-win for us. We’re all getting ready for a new start.”