The Herald Bulletin

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April 5, 2014

Maleah Stringer: 9 Lives program brings felines, prisoners together

The 9 Lives shelter cat prison program was established in 2009. The main motivation behind it was to save these cats' lives due to an overpopulation issue with unwanted cats in our community. Cats were coming in faster it seemed than we could write kennel cards. I'm sorry to say it has not changed.

I approached the Indiana Department of Corrections and the superintendent at the Correctional Industrial Facility with a proposal to house our cats, and it was approved.

The program has changed and evolved since the original proposal. The Animal Protection League has 30 cats who live in the cells with the offenders, much like the dogs in our Fido program. Some of the cells have two cats if they came in as a bonded pair. These offenders also foster some of the cats for the Saving Max foster prison program for owners who are experiencing life difficulties and need a place for their cats until they can care for them again.

The cats in the 9 Lives program are for adoption but what we've found is that most are adopted by the families of the offenders or by the offenders themselves when they get out of prison. All offenders who are in the Fido and the 9 Lives programs are screened carefully before they are given an animal to care for and they continue to be monitored by prison and APL staff. Many of the cats in CIF are from the original group from 2009. One such cat is Roger.

Roger has been with the same offender since 2009. The offender adores Roger and Roger agrees that he is his human. Roger started losing weight a few months ago and it was quickly brought to our attention that something was not right. A visit to the veterinarian revealed that Roger needed surgery; he had a urinary blockage. Without this expensive surgery Roger might not live.

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