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Vermont Department of Corrections

Here is one example of how to handle the cat overpopulation problem in a responsible and humane manner. We commend these folks for not putting the cats, the inmates or native wildlife at risk. Prisons often have problems regarding the feeding of stray and feral cats. Programs that make an effort to help cats without compromising public health and the environment should be employed.

Below is the letter sent by Superintendent Anita Carbonell to staff and some comments from the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections.

For the original story from the Associated Press, Prison cats in Vermont involuntarily paroled, click here.

While I appreciate that some inmates enjoy the cats and there is certainly an argument to be made about the benefits of pets, we do not have the kind of facility where this can be adequately managed and ensure care and safety for the cats, as well as the humans.

Since I have been here, there has already been one incident, which appeared to be intentionally inflicted injury to a cat. We are not able to provide the level of veterinary care a pet deserves, the population changes frequently making attachment impermanent, and we have medical concerns regarding allergies and possible infection from cat scratches, which is always a possibility with feral cats and unfamiliar people.

We will be collecting the cats, arranging to treat them for fleas and worms and having them spayed or neutered. After that, the ASPCA will assist in placing them in permanent, loving homes where they will be cared for.

I would like to consider having one or two inmates assist with this task in kenneling the cats as they are captured, administering flea and worm medication, ensuring they are fed and cared for while this is done (48 hours) until they are altered and turned over to the shelter.

This will probably be an ongoing, intermittent task as we will certainly attract other stray or abandoned cats and assistance in doing this would be a great help and occasional project for interested inmates.

The Vermont Department of Corrections has a broad interest in animal welfare:

  •  have run pet training programs (where and when practical) at other facilities
  •  are currently exploring a new program for offenders to train puppies to assist disabled veterans
  •  had community work crews assist shelters
  •  have staff (both in the community and prison facilities) who prompt/enable offenders to arrange pet care when the owner is newly incarcerated
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