Inmates give shelter cats new lease on life - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Inmates give shelter cats new lease on life


Emily Longnecker/Eyewitness News

Madison County - Homeless cats in Madison County are getting help from inmates at the state prison in Pendleton.

Fifty-nine cats and kittens are being cared for by prisoners like Robin Schlusser. He introduced Eyewitness News to some of the felines he's looking after.

"Wave for 'em. Tell 'em, say 'adopt me. I need a good home,'" he said.

All of the cats were looking at death sentences at Anderson Animal Care and Control.

"We have limited space. There is an overwhelming need to find a way to fix this," said Maleah Stringer, Anderson Animal Care and Control.

"This is my favorite one right here in this room - Bud," Schlusser said, pointing out a lively tabby.

That answer could be through a new cat Fostering Program called Nine Lives at Madison County's Medium Security Prison in Pendleton.

"Looking after them. Letting 'em know there's somebody here that cares about 'em and wants to see 'em get big and get 'em a little home. They need a place to live," he said.

Six inmates were chosen to care for the cats in eight-hour shifts.

"This is not about the offenders having pets. This is about us saving these animals," said Stringer.

For inmate Robin Schlusser, who is serving time for voluntary manslaughter, "it makes me feel better about myself. Something to care about."

"If you come in here and you make the choice that you want to walk a different path and you are trying to be different, I do believe they should have a chance to be different and I do believe that animals can help them be that way," Stringer said.

The cats may be new here, but this facility's already gone to the dogs with the Fido Program. That's where inmates train and foster dogs for adoption. They hope that the Nine Lives Program can be just as successful.

"They're going to get adopted out trust me. They are," said Daniel Emery, inmate. "Even though I'm the dog guy, I'm rootin' for the cats too. Don't forget that."

Just like the dogs here, prospective owners can go to the shelter's web site and see cats up for adoption.

"Eventually they'll be leaving," said Schlusser.

Department of Correction officials say the program will allow the cats to receive more attention than they would at the shelter, and give inmates an opportunity to help.

Shelter officials say it's a win-win solution because the extra attention the cats receive from the prisoners will result in better socialization, alleviating the stress and depression they often develop while in cages. The offenders get the chance to give back to society.

The shelter says it's in particular need of clay cat litter, cat food, toys or monthly donations.

Learn more about adopting a pet from Anderson Animal Care and Control.

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