YAMHILL, Ore. – As the economy struggles to rebound and animals are increasingly neglected, area sheriffs have stepped in and offered the services of inmates to help care for some of them.
Inmates from several Oregon counties have been enlisted to help rebuild shelters for neglected animals.
Doctor Barbara Kahl is a full-time veterinarian, but her other passion is caring for neglected horses that she takes into her shelter. Last winter, she had 31 horses on hand.
“People can't afford to feed horses that used to be able to,” she said. “So they have animals on the pasture and the mountains thinking they can survive. But they can't because they're domesticated."
So Kahl takes them in, feeds them and nurtures them, at no cost. Her volunteers can only do so much, so the sheriffs offered strength in numbers.
"I'm kind of a big teddy bear myself," said Keith Waterman, who is one of 70 inmates chipping in to help build shelters for neglected horses. "I really care about animals."
Waterman worked in construction most of his life before he ended up in jail.
"Once you've done something your society is punishing you for," he said, "when you can kind of get an opportunity to make it right a little bit, it feels like you're doing the right thing."
The crews started helping Kahl gear up for winter, building more shelters to make way for more animals.
"It's a lot better than being incarcerated in a 12 by 12 box," Waterman said. "And getting this opportunity its well worth the time and the hard work we put in out here. It feels really good."
More than 500 man hours went into the project on Friday alone. Kahl told KGW what took the inmates only a day to finish would've taken months for her and the volunteers who help her.