Discussion of Inmate Labor Program at Pasco County Animal Shelter

This represents a highly unusual edition of “Talking Animals,” chiefly, because it features far more guests at one time—eight—than any other show in our 13-plus year history. The overall topic was Pasco County’s Inmate Labor Program, which allows inmates to “work” at the Pasco County Animal Shelter. 01b775dThe guests were Mike Shumate, left, director of Pasco County Animal Services, Sheriff Detention Deputy Chris Ruiz (who oversees the selection, scheduling and work of the inmates at the Shelter), and six of the inmate workers: Nicholas Voporis, Edgar Velez, Darryn Senoga, Angela Osorio, Jessie Geiger and Justin Lebarron. We discuss the history of the Pasco County Inmate Labor Program, which was launched at the Pasco County Animal Shelter in October of 2014, and how it’s evolved and expanded, to where now, five inmate workers (today, six) typically turn up there five days a week. They undertake various tasks at the Shelter, including cleaning kennels, refilling food and water bowls, walking the AR-160419147dogs, and more—including an increasing emphasis on training, by way of a staff behavior training coordinator, who provides training techniques to the inmates, who in turn teach train the shelter dogs at the shelter, which boosts their prospects of being adopted. The inmates’ work at the Shelter allows them to get some time shaved off their sentences, in a formula that Deputy Ruiz explains. Some of the inmates, including Voporis, Velez (whose release from jail is imminent, so is about to end his stint at the Animal Shelter), Osorio and Senoga—the most senior inmate worker, having toiled there for seven months—address what they like most about the gig, the mixed but mostly positive feelings they experience when a dog is adopted from the Shelter, and more.                                               (www.pascocountyfl.net/Index.aspx?NID=408)

bullhookALSO: I spoke briefly with Catherine Doyle, Director of Science, Research and Advocacy for the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), about the news that on Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1062, the bill to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants, which prevents circuses and other attractions that use bullhooks from operating in the state. PAWS was a co-sponsor of the bill, Doyle was instrumental in helping push it through, and has consulted and otherwise assisted cities and states with passing bullhook bans. We discussed the implications of California passing its ban, the second state to do so, after Rhode Island enacted a ban in July. (www.pawsweb.org)

COMEDY CORNER: Pete Holmes’ “Dropped A Dog” (http://peteholmes.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Bent Fabric’s “Alley Cat”


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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