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Cook County inmates to work at city's animal shelter

  • A Lake County jail inmate gives a baby pit bull a bath during her volunteer time at the Lake County Animal Care and Control in 2009. Chicago has an agreement with the Cook County Sheriff's Office for a similar program.
A Lake County jail inmate gives a baby pit bull a bath during her volunteer… (Lane Christiansen/ Chicago…)
December 11, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Non-violent inmates would continue feeding animals and cleaning their cages at the city's Animal Care and Control facility under an agreement advanced by a key City Council committee.

The Committee on Budget and Government Operations on Tuesday endorsed the renewal of an agreement between the city and the Cook County Sheriff's Office that would allow 16 detainees at the Cook County Department of Corrections to volunteer for four hours a day for one year at the Animal Care and Control facility at 2741 S. Western Ave.

The pilot program started in August 2011 and was set to expire at the end of 2012. Under the new three-year agreement, the detainees would clean and disinfect animal cages and provide food and water to the housed animals in an effort to gain job skills and reduce recidivism. Lake County reportedly launched a similar program in 2009.

"Both parties are pleased with the program and consider it a great success," said Bill McCaffrey, spokesman for the Commission on Animal Care and Control. "Animal care and control continually receives positive comments from visitors on how much cleaner the facility looks."

The program allows staff to focus on other tasks, such as dedicating more time to pet adoption services, he said.

About 53 participation certificates have been awarded to the detainees, which some have presented to judges at court hearings, he said.

The city would pay the sheriff's office $323,652 to cover an administrative fee, the cost of buses and gas to transport the inmates, and wages for up to three sworn correctional officers and one sergeant who would supervise the inmates.

The agreement will go to the City Council for approval at its Wednesday meeting.

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