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WWL>Topics>>4-29-14 1:10pm Angela: on Pen Pals Animal Shelter

4-29-14 1:10pm Angela: on Pen Pals Animal Shelter

Apr 29, 2014|

Angela talks with John C. Smith of Dixon Correctional Institute and Dr. Wendy Wolfson about the Pen Pals Animal Shelter & Adoption Center.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well welcome to Tuesday. I hope even the gray skies are not dimming Eude. Looks like we've gotten through the bad weather hopefully that is the case. We have an interest in three hours ahead the first hour is a program. I'm so excited to be doing it because I know these people and I know the program and I think you're gonna love it. It's all about animals and it's about prisoners and it's about helping each other. Our second hour is going to be. I keep saying it keeps rearing its head but it's the issue of do we have too many T shirt shops in the French Quarter we're gonna have both sides on and they are very very clear in their stands on it you'll not wanna miss that. And our third hour did you know that one American dies every power. For melanoma. So we have a super dermatologist whose gonna be here with this for the whole hour talking about that and other things about how look the best you can look. But we're gonna talk melanoma first and also. With the state representative who has a bill before our house talking about. Not allowing kids under eighteen to don't tanning beds anyway it's all going to be an interesting three hours and I hope you stay with -- But we begin with. If you have ever walk through the channels of an animal shelter you can often feel the sadness. Row after row of unwanted dogs and cats discarded like pieces of trash. If you look at their eyes you can see that somehow they know. Know that someone they may have -- doesn't -- them anymore. Or that they were never wanted. If you -- jumping up in their cages trying to get your attention. It may mean they still have hope. If they just sit quietly staring at issue it probably means they've given up. So to walk to a camel like the one at the Dixon correctional facility thirty miles north of Baton Rouge. And -- happy and enthusiastic dogs of all ages and sizes. You have to wonder what's going on. The answer is simple. They are unwanted dogs who now have people who love and care for them. It's the prisoners who are the caregivers. Feeding them cleaning up after them playing with them training them and ultimately making them more adaptable. Dixon correctional has created a second chance for dogs. And a second chance for some prisoners who get certified as shelter workers. And like the animals they care for May have happier future. It's what we're going to be talking about with two people who helped run the program. John C Smith the corrections colonel at Dixon correctional institute. And doctor Wendy Wolfson a professor at L issues veterinary school. I was wanna say to my favorite people and for all the right reasons no I really mean this. In in 2012 I got a message on May boost perhaps from colonel Smith saying he -- currency our program. And so I did a story for channel four on it and I thought. This is it. This is solving a myriad of problems certainly with animals and certainly with human beings. And I was just impressed with the whole thing I would like you to take -- back colonel if you would and how did this it's called pen pals isn't T and not writing it. -- -- -- Right as a penitentiary. It up I started back after Katrina. Then warden James Obama who -- are awarded and our president and secretary. -- dollar. They were you know we were evacuate no PP when they saw. Just -- devastation those dawn on. And I can't say enough good things about sector were blown and what he's done that put us on the track whereas. So they kind of saw what we needed in and they saw what was going home and Gonzales with the animals and -- Obama. Say well look I got to place at present we can we can help it. -- in erupted at because people may have forgotten or not known but these thousands of animals that were evacuated out of the city. Ended up at Dixon Lamar Lamar Dixon and they work and people all of the United States came to help. There was an overflow. Right the right note and we took on about 400 animals and we had everything -- cats chickens goats you name it we've we've probably -- out there. And to use inmates for the by the labor to take care of it and people took turns going out there and work in it and you're right there were people from all over the places were helping make that happen. So with that going around than humane society got involved and said -- we can help you out. So they gave us a grant to build a shelter and a pavilion style born. Two take on an -- if it happens again going to stop it we are able we had about seventy animals overflowed. There that we took care. And they have local bit -- came in and volunteer and help. Ticket you know and Carolina so what we needed to date. -- to you first of all the facility is beautiful and the prisoners built a guest now right. Got a proclamation from the governor and we used inmate labor to build us that we can several pin isn't and that way we can count about all of it -- -- don't get any state funding for. So we operate off of grants donations things like that. This facility that whole -- animals. Really is is really very lovely. It's you know it's got cages setters -- but and fans that but I love the openness of it. And so then the prisoners are tell me how. So with HS US in the city Humane Society of the United States the national organization came in with a grant said if you build it and will. Given this current front and and so then you had to have the prisoner labor how were they select. It was like -- through they couldn't be sex offenders. Though animal cruelty charges in thing like that. And good work ethic and good behavior -- dead right up or anything like that I -- of exclude them. We interview room just and I knew some of the gas and it worked. There after Katrina that overflow of animals we had those. One to the gas in our our members from that. So we had that and then they went through some trying and Doug Wilson came. From the vet school allowed them out on how you actually should work in a shelter how you properly cleaned cages how do you reckon as. You know different diseases so without her help in the best school we would've been just kind of walk around in circles so without them we'd have been. In a bad way just you know and alarmed sushi. Saved us a lot of steps. Alone get on the right track. So Wendy Wolfson when he -- people know and love from. Over twenty years that the Louisiana SP CA now fulltime. At the Alicia vet school teaching shelter medicine hello. What a great -- itself up. It's just that it's funny how things just fit and work. So you were there thank captain. To train the prisoners on how to. Care for them. That's exactly what happened. I think they probably would have learned on their and that acting -- we gave them a little bit of a shortcut. What happened was. I noticed on my mini tours of duty there that they have a lot of -- cats bobcats on the prison grounds. And I think that's how we got our introduction to the place was let me take care of those -- cats and in the meantime will also help train these prisoners. And we'll show you the steps along the way to make this shelter are really not just a good shelter putted great shelter. I -- on John uses inmate labor and I use student labor to do all the training. And it's so wonderful relationship that has established between. The Ellis chief vet school and the penitentiary in. The and I should've said that this the big pavilion that you built which is the shelter. Is for the dogs but they also carry cats disarmament I was jumping you have like thirty cats. Yes -- yeah. We have the cats and we have an area for the cat now we have two different buildings we have that shelter which is which saw an affront. We have a surgical suite and there we have the office space. And we have a groom an area where we can make a dollar more presentable and better in Michael -- optical. We also had the big Peruvian -- born on the bottom which is four. When -- when there's a storm -- and onto about. You know -- taking an -- -- -- that as they quarantine that area before -- also bearcats into our population. Our. Keep you know just wellness of of the animals can go from spread disease and things like that. Well again I only had that one day experience but I walked away from that. Truly and I do believe what I wrote that I've been to enough shelters and been down those rows of cages and seen depression. And those who are giving up. To know the difference between animals that do have hope. And I'm telling you I was I left there as to the cameraman saying these dogs are happy. And and loved I mean the prisoners really care about them. They're gonna do they they they get a lesser -- say they get emotional win when they have to adopt when out on the AC one gallon. You know I cannot talk -- laugh about about in house is that is total. And in the end up Wilson sees it too when they take that much care and you know when. And pave rovers not doing well here you know it's got -- today or -- -- And they they relay that information very well. Stay with this is weakened to continue our talk with them. The head of the animal program and Dixon correctional and the wonderful Wendy Wolfson veterinarian stay with its. Well we are talking about an incredible program at the Dixon correctional facility. That was started after Katrina with the help of the Humane Society of the United States. But it's really Dixon that has picked up the ball and now created this great program. Where dogs. Who weren't overflow originally but now in -- me if I'm wrong pronouncement that. There is in your area no shelter like we have SBC or Jefferson has when you don't have a -- correct. Our shelters only one and easily -- parish. And that's kind of where we get and we get enough holes you know have been -- rule there if there's a lot of the straight -- and and things like that so we -- -- Didn't allow them and we stay pretty much capacity but we're adopting guarantee until we were no kill so we're not euthanize them because a space or anything like that. So it -- because we don't have state funding or anything like that that allows us to be able to do that we don't have to take every. Know people caller good Hannity you're outta my dog. With a foot on the space -- that we don't have to take it we would just hold them and we'll have a adoption day makes a room command take you down again. And then Wendy Wolfson -- when you Bolton who has sent the veterinarian from the LSU veterinary school. Brings in New York students who ultimately perhaps want to work in shelters oh I'm I'm hoping so that is my dream. I have not too weak rotation that strictly deals with shelters in Louisiana. And we toured the area shelters in Louisiana our goal is to you. Make the shelters batter. I have the animals much more adaptable and decrease -- donation rates. So when I bring them T Dixon. I I generally don't tell them anything about the prison -- just say. Make sure you bring an idea and leave your guns and times I don't think and then questioned them on the ride back. Just to see. What they thought about it and inevitably they are very very impressed. It is clean that animals are treated well animals each animal's taken out handled every single day. And they're they're just surprised. Impressed. And I'm hoping that maybe once upon graduation. They go out into their communities and start from the same programs. It's a win win it's overused often but it is a win win because these selected prisoners and you said colonel that there are restrictions on every prisons and -- to do it. And it does work I mean these guys are cleaning up. And -- aren't -- isn't just hello I'm with the dog and isn't nice. And they never stop because there's a lot of dogs and their cleaning up. But it's the relationship that's built. Exactly we. They definitely bond but the dolls and like you said there is most. The -- I mean those my did woke up middle in the -- -- and is someone here the dog bark you know they need to go to -- don't make sure everything's okay. So is not a usual -- -- welcome though -- -- they -- and it won't. We won't need to check on top down at the shelter so that that happens a good bit. Now these animals. Are not enough -- are these prisoners. Can be certified as a shelter workers so the idea is. That when they finish the year silence. They would have -- employable skill. Yes ma'am what they do is how it works is Douglas and come in order student and they present different topics will make up. It might be about intestinal parasites who might be how to properly clean. And then they're given attest that in that I have two inmates have taken correspondence courses become -- assistant but there it's a. To see that's huge. That is a real. Profession. Of that of that assistant. It it is and not only does -- -- the inmates. Far better at what they do at the prison now. It also allows our students. To become teachers. And it these forty students. Have to learn how to. -- knowledge to use something that that inmates can understand. So it's it's really being quite a journey. No and I just come. Back when I did I don't think they had the -- students. I think it was more just the prisoners that I meant the -- integrating this into the school curriculum. It is everything that's -- we get twice a month and what ever. If the inmates show a certain. That they'd like to learn certain things then on -- instruct our students. To put together a class for them and asked to be at a level -- inmates can understand. And the guy is the inmates have taken that knowledge and absolutely. Done phenomenally. They noticed things in those animals that most people would never -- -- Isn't that incredible. We're going to be talking more about this because they've taken it further to some other prison facilities. We're gonna hear about that but. NBA commissioner Adam silver today held a news conference to discuss clippers owner Donald sterling and the racist comments he made in a recorded conversation. Silver announced the league is banning of sterling for life. From the NBA and it's also handing down the maximum fine of two and a half. Million dollars we're gonna hear much more from this from the CBS news. We're talking with doctor Wendy Wolfson and colonel John Smith and we're talking about a program that started at the Dixon correctional institute. Where prisoners are caring for -- shelter animals which are sheltered there shelter built Omnia the acreage of Dixon correctional. And to make animals more adaptable. And it's also training prisoners with the skill that once they believed hopefully they can find work and I loved hearing that a compliment. Gone on to become vet -- because that is a great profession and and not easy again. You have to be very motivate itself. What a good turning point in somebody's life. Let's talk first about about the animals do you have any count on how many homes and profound. Yes -- We have found. And 450. Homes were about as we've been open. We do go to Angola rodeo news. Every cent in October and in the spring in fact we just they just had a -- rodeos and we were able to -- eight dogs home this past week in. Saturday in three Sunday. And we have adoption days. Kevin Kennedy -- work with -- to show that he can ramrod it. These a day today. In that does excellent I can't say enough good things about it. -- our worker and he sets it up and goes to. Then old town about Zachary goes and sets up adoption days -- from the grocery store. So some four got our way it was like to come home what do part of mills sees as a but the dog fell on it we need about -- they're now. And their space and are important to act beautifully trained chaos and and I asked where. You know up worked out dollar work in notes most my career. And that's what I have in my artist adoption adopted -- and one from the shelter will blue healers. Blessed -- ours she's just as retarded as they come but it lover not a rat and a truck -- -- me -- we go fission into -- against them together says. Yeah I love adoption. It's like. When you adopt one like they appreciate which did fall church. And Anna's I don't know -- is they'll come -- I mean in the nicest possible way. But you get a mutt dog -- just -- kill mud. He's pat them get run over and everything and they shake back. But you put dollar doubt in his struggle keep enough. The half -- ago Bill Owens of the mixed -- in the mix. Breeds and you know I was very glad that this year at the national -- they had a mixed breed competition but I -- you're saying if there isn't appreciation factor. And these dogs have been through a lot of people some people think that when they get a dog from the shelter it's the best on them ever. And the loving relationship built with the prisoners. Is what has led to that. Heaven knows where they came from absolutely in this dogs a lot of them come out of their shell. They'll come and very very shy and the guys will work with them. And then you have a dog you want to do the agility course or faxes and heels and sits and just a completely different on how when when they first came into this. Now you all are now at other. Correctional institutions yes I'm we have gotten a call about it. Well like I said our first integrated into Dixon was through the -- cats. And went out close to 200 cats so we now have. Put that to bad says that's a good thing. And then started getting phone calls about Angola and Angola is huge place with an estimate of 12100. -- So -- Yeah it's been just wonderful secretary -- blond and the wardens of the different prisons we get -- -- boils. Dixon and to Angola and we bring our mobile unit that LSU vet school has a mobile surgical unit. And the students help me. And so I have this great labor source and they're getting an education as we do it. And we spay -- the caps we also give rabies shots and we'd give -- -- warmer and we treat whatever medical issues we see. And our. -- done about close to 500 as ever the whole. The whole deal but. But that the students love they love it it's exciting for them their learning from it and HS US and SBC may have been remarkable. In the money that they've donated to us both organization is this the first in the nation. It is a very unique program. Other veterinary schools have shelter medicine programs. Our program. We have over thirty shelters. In Louisiana that we help. And the four prisons it it's a very unique program. And Ellis he's been wonderful I have kind of a wild imagination. And they just turned meaningless. And and when you don't feel. Confines. -- you can achieve miracles. Beautifully said on that noble take another break but stay with us. -- We are talking with the doctor Wendy Wolfson and down colonel John Smith from the correction. Dixon correctional center talking about this fabulous program they have. And it's called pen pals think of penitentiary pals. Pen pals animal shelter. Built originally with a grant from the humane society United States. With prison labor and now takes care of hundreds of dogs. That the prisoners care for. And ultimately they get adopted and as the colonel said 450 animals but now have homes that wouldn't. And that's how you have to think about it that's a lot and that's -- talk about the cats that's up about the dogs. Then you have when he's talking about. The feral cats going into. Other -- I think most people know that through cats do tend to congregate in prisons absolutely -- they can just wander on to the prison grounds and they find there. Their groceries out of the dumpsters right. And so you'll took it upon yourself because we all know about getting the spay neutered and releasing them back stops the proliferation absolutely. Leigh -- and we've seen that three -- especially Dixon we had many many -- cats and now. We can't even find cat is not your tip -- your tip them to mark them and the caps are fat and sassy and they just they enjoy a good life I'm trying to rare but I think when I was there but there was a cat that guarded the the shed that helped them. -- we have a team of cats that hang out. He did. In Atlanta -- right where arm for and they were fairly today we get a they they get to even the cats and we let him do that and say yes yes -- that's what we do we keep. Everything on the job there a -- you. We'll -- with the dog to get -- -- -- play just you know the entertaining those let's move. Whenever we put on there we haven't agility course and back that we. We take about the -- that shows some potential for. And then when the vets come -- when the -- listeners do stumbled to a competition ever so popular. To each month we try to do little competition. Beat -- did have a different dollar each month. So that makes you at which last Olga. And train a new one. Just -- turtles we have turtle town in a I'm which we had we had done. Quarter turtle order case and LSU -- a dozen or so eternal. And we built a place at Dickson and makes -- little turtle -- and the juvenile offenders take care of the turtles and the doctor doctor -- -- doctor Javier comes from LSU -- teaches them about turtles internal K here. And last time he brought. You've also heard Craig. Look right on out and they. Eastern -- he brought that to show you know shows kids in and give a consultant to make it worth you know that they can appreciate so that there are labor didn't go unnoticed. Excellent if somebody because we wanna emphasize not one cent of tax money goes toward one this is all -- has been on through grants and as you continue to do. And which you do take donations and I think there may be people out there listening who will say this is something that does help it helps the prisoners and save the animals. Right and we have our large population. In the -- -- -- -- says from the New Orleans area and most of gets that work in -- from this area. You know every guy I interviewed in this was this is by happenstance. They didn't know who I was in an interview every single one was from -- area. -- I was -- a lot to talk about it they like to hear all the details of -- room and he talked about restaurants and and chip and -- quite a bit -- try to get them encourage them to me and so we discussed books. Once they're done their work we discuss books so. It's and could well ran to proclaim an end and Dixon correct me if I'm wrong. There are going to be lifers are these are guys who are -- we have some drivers there -- do okay I live on Angola was the only one. No ma'am -- company's business gathered Angolan they've done a certain amount of time and they kind of shown that they've you know they've. I guess a good -- whatever -- they go left of the presence but we have about 4050 lifers at d.s yeah. Well I don't have any lifers -- work and shelter right I guess on the a lot of time but it. There have numbers not letters this of this at a moment. I loved I read one article and the author of the article was talking about what we're talking about -- said that the animals don't know. To the truck prisoners have numbers and it is all about heart. To heart. In a lot of things that we're working on to his. Track in the conduct that -- we're about to start trying to in dogs for posttraumatic stress disorder yes for. And -- -- thought that and open the -- -- let the dogs live on the you know on dorms would think it would Trier. We do that with. Weather service -- that we trying for canine companions for independence but one of the re entry. Gas and angles ability tracked in our reentry -- The conduct not so much for the inmate with a -- -- -- five good conduct. But does it affect the hold -- -- if you have a dog to live on the -- how does it affect the whole right. And you know him -- we just kind of started with the show and we've only been operating for a few years we fed they were at work. 5060%. Of recidivism. But the guess who worked initiative got now. It's that we've only had a one -- two comeback. Right I don't normally within five years I think articles I read where a 75%. Return rate. Of inmates so far we've had four or five that have gone through the program and only had one return. So. I feel like we're ahead of the game and we've also had. People from other states call us to ask about this program. I think that the veterinary school aspect. Is an important part. When we first go when we first start ago when the inmates were very -- Didn't know what to think and and -- no question am questioning them later they say well you know we thought the kids we're going to be judgmental. And -- that educational level. That they felt like that was huge barrier. And those walls. Have been not broken but shattered. And I think to have communication. And deal with people not in the prison system. On a fairly regular basis helps people learn to relate to other people when they get out. Now it's just keep calling a win win but. It's multi layered and and that and that is what we're hearing. But you're looking at world talking about we get too many prisoners and when it's costing state and when you -- programs like this that can help somebody. Dream about a career and then get some credentials toward that -- the chance of them coming back are. Less and less so it's it's it's just a wonderful idea plus it's helping him. And and not only have my students taught them. That is inmates put together a little class they've done a couple of times. And have the competition mice students and then given him quizzes. And don't back. Named in rentable. Bird houses and -- -- teens for them when they can answer the questions correctly. I would've ever thought. I have loved having you both here I wanna say one more time if someone would like to donate and they can go to pen pals such -- pals. Animal shelter just build that on FaceBook. And I'll tell you all about it and and have -- PayPal and if you would like to donate they. Because -- we need to keep this going this is money well spent and it doesn't have to come from taxpayers you can come from people. Who just applaud what you do and one encouragement to do continued success to you say hello to everybody over there. I guess and I want everyone to stay with us we'll be back but will be again talking our next hour about on the ongoing battle of teacher chops in the corner. Stay with its.

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