Inmates, horses help each other get a second chance

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November 22, 2012, 9:53 pm
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(NECN: Marnie MacLean) - Each day, Chris makes his way to a barn in Warren, Maine to take care of two horses: Bradley, a 14-year-old standard bred and Lincoln, a retired race horse.

Both animals were seized by the state after suffering from neglect. Now, they are receiving excellent care.

"He gets a massage every day, arthritis," Chris says. "Between injuries and age, make sure he's good and loose to move and run around in a pasture."

When Chris puts the horses in the barn, he heads down the hill - and back to jail.

He's an inmate at the Bolduc Correctional Facility - a rural campus with lots of land. There, the state saw an opportunity for Animal Welfare and corrections to work together.

"They have the space available, they have the hay, they have staffing ... you can see by all the work they have done here, the incredible job they have done," says Liam Hughes of Animal Welfare.

The program is called Shelter Me, and it's comprised of two inmates who are working with the horses. Eric Weston has a few months left on a sentence for receiving stolen property. A carpenter by trade, he lost his job and got desperate.

Rather than sit around the prison all day, he comes to the barn and works with the horses.

"Makes you feel more like you are on the outside still," he says.

The goal is to have the inmates nurse the horses back to health and eventually try and place them with adoptive families.

The prison says even though only two inmates work with the horses, it's impacting the entire population.

"They are positive role models for good behavior," explains Ben Beal, the director of Bolduc Correctional Facility. "They are thinking, using their heads instead of fists, violence has gone down, it's a good thing."

Lincoln and Bradley are here now, but two more horses will be here soon, including one that is blind.

A barn full of horses who have struggled with injury, disability and neglect have teamed up with inmates who themselves are likely understand what it's like to travel a rough road. Now, they're helping each other to a better path.

Tags: maine, animal welfare, Warren, Marnie MacLean, rehabilitation, inmates, horses, Bolduc Correctional Facility, animal rehabilitation
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