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Kittens Provide Travis County Inmates A Distraction And An Opportunity

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Travis County Sheriff's Office
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The Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle welcomed four new residents last week: Delilah, Prince Sebastian, Princess Puddin’ and Pretty Kitty Cat Miss.

The siblings, all of them 7-week-old kittens, are part of a program started last year to have inmates foster animals. The program was created by a partnership between the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Animal Services.

“It’s changed [inmates’] lives,” said Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez. “It’s boosted their morale. They’re getting to learn a trade and they’re being educated on how to take care of kittens. … It also gives them an opportunity to think about something besides themselves.”

Austin City Council members approved the kitten-fostering program this fall. It’s the second part of a larger effort to give inmates the chance to care for animals. In September 2016, roughly 140 inmates took classes on caring for pets and had the chance to foster dogs.

Lee Ann Shenefiel, interim chief of Austin Animal Services, said the goal is to have these kittens ready for adoption in February.

“These are kittens who are learning socialization skills,” she said. “They’re learning to be handled by multiple people and they’re getting the care and attention that they need.”

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