Here's Why 15 Inmates Spent the Night Comforting and Playing with Lonely Dogs at Animal Shelter

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Another Fourth of July is in the books, and with it, many memories were created. Meals with family and friends, red-white-and-blue attire and, of course, fireworks were all part of the festivities.

There’s nothing like the startling explosions and crackling as the night sky is lit up by dazzling colors. Pyrotechnics are staples of Independence Day, New Year’s Eve and Disneyland trips — but not everyone enjoys the displays.

Many veterans with PTSD and animals don’t fancy the explosions, and it can take a heavy toll on their physical and psychological well-being.

Pet owners are urged every year to keep their pets locked up — in a crate inside is preferable, where they’ll feel safe and be unable to escape. Animal shelters get an influx of pets after every fireworks-involved holiday, as dogs escape in terror from yards and homes.

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But what about the pets that have no homes? Shelters are full of animals who — though well-contained — don’t have anyone to comfort them as the explosions ring out.

Over the years, people have started volunteering their Fourth of July evening in shelters, reading to dogs and giving them treats to help them stay calm. But Sheriff Wayne Ivey with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida explained that they have a new system.

Many citizens were offering to spend their time with the dogs on July 4th, but the sheriff said that their offers were appreciated but unnecessary.

“While we greatly appreciate the offer of assistance and truly love the fact that our community partners with us to help our homeless pets, our agency has designed a new program that will not only help our dogs but will also help add purpose to the lives of inmates incarcerated at the Brevard County Jail,” he said, according to a Facebook post.

“This year inmates on our Chain Gang and other work crews will be comforting our dogs at the Animal Care Center by reading to them, playing with them, and even feeding them treats during the peak hours of celebration on Independence Day,” he said. Fifteen inmates in total would be participating.

“Our goal is to not only help calm the dogs but also to help build and instill a sense of purpose and compassion in the inmates that will hopefully aid them as they transition back into society once the have served their time.”

The jail even has a program for making dog-friendly ice cream, so the pups at the shelter would be celebrating in style with one of America’s favorite summer treats.

“They’ll serve the dogs some sorbet,” Sheriff Ivey told WOFL. “We have an ice cream maker here in the jail, we use inmate labor, and we give them to the dogs.”

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“It’s healthy for them,” he said, to clarify, “it’s not regular ice cream, it’s for pets.”

Besides helping out the homeless animals, this process is beneficial for the inmates as well, and perhaps this practice will become more widespread as this story circulates.

“The upside for the inmates is they’re learning to care for something, to be compassionate about something,” Ivey said, “and I think it’s a win-win for everybody across the board.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking