by Kimberly Wade
Picture this. A group of male prisoners (big, burly guys) and a group of tiny, tabby kittens (weighing about three ounces), meeting each other for the first time at the Warm Springs Correctional Center. It’s early evening, the sun is setting, and everyone is settling in for the night. It’s calm and quiet.
Suddenly the men are alert, turning all warm and fuzzy, cooing and using baby talk—they are melting at the sight of newborn kittens.
Don’t judge, you would react this way too.
Petey, Piper, Pickles and Pepper are the first ones to participate in INK, Inmates Nursing Kittens, a new program in partnership with the Nevada Department of Corrections and Nevada Humane Society. Through this initiative, Nevada Humane Society furthers its lifesaving mission by gaining much needed help caring for kittens without a mother, readying them for future homes, while the kittens receive round-the-clock love, care and socialization that would otherwise not be available at the shelter. Prospective inmates are specially chosen and must be disciplinary free, as well as pass a rigorous application process to be considered for the program—it’s also good to note that they are all either veterans or senior citizens. Supplies are provided by donors as well as Nevada Humane Society, while training, support and resources are provided by Nevada Humane Society, therefore giving the kittens the best care possible. Both kittens and humans will receive the reward of a better life in the future.
INK has begun at the perfect time—the beginning of kitten season, which is, as those in animal welfare call it, the time of year (spring through late fall) when unaltered cats are breeding, leading to thousands of kittens flooding local shelters. Many kittens are too young to be put up for adoption, so they are placed into temporary foster homes to grow big and strong, as well as receive critical socialization. While there are many people who offer this volunteer service, there is still a need for even more foster families—and when we saw success with our PUPS Program, then got the approval from the prison, it was a no-brainer to enhance our partnership.
This is lifesaving. This is Nevada Humane Society.
Petey, Piper, Pickles and Pepper have already made a name for themselves. Our shelter director for Carson City said that the men were so ga-ga over the kittens that they literally had to draw names to find out who would get this first group. There is nothing more touching than stories like this. But no need to worry, because soon, many more litters will be on their way to the Warm Springs Correctional Center.
Personally, I love it. It’s a win for everyone. It teaches people to help those who can’t help themselves, it enhances our lifesaving in Carson City and for Northern Nevada as a whole, and it raises awareness of the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
As this is a brand new program we are seeking help to fund it—so we’ve set up a GoFundMe account. Funds will cover special crates for the kittens, food, bedding, toys and more. We can’t unfortunately accept donated supplies for this; only monetary donations (the prison has to approve all items so it’s easier for us to purchase them directly). If you can support us through this online fundraiser, or if you wish to call 775-856-2000 ext. 324 to donate we would greatly appreciate it. You can be proud knowing that not only are you helping the kittens, but you are giving the inmates the reward of a better life too.