State rescues horses. Inmates help rehabilitate them. Officials call it a “win, win.”
On March 16, the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Agriculture (DOA), hosted an Equine Auction at the Lee Arrendale State Prison (LASP) Equine Center in Alto.
Nine horses were auctioned off. The auction raised more than $2,000. The GDC says the money will be used to help rehabilitate horses which have been taken in by Georgia DOA.
“We appreciate our partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture on a program that not only gives the horses a second chance, but also our offenders.” says Commissioner Timothy Ward. “The horses benefit from the care they receive in this program, and the offenders are able to obtain hands-on experience to begin building a resume which will assist them with employment upon release.”
“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.” – Mat Thompson Georgia DOA
In 2008, the GDC and Georgia DOA partnered to begin the Equine Rescue program at LASP, after the Georgia DOA expressed a need for space for neglected and abused horses. The Georgia DOA rescues the horses and transports them to LASP for care and treatment. The Georgia Equine Rescue League assists both organizations by providing supplies the horses may need to be successfully rehabilitated once they arrive to the facility. The horses are worked with on a daily basis by offenders in the program and once rehabilitated, are sold at auctions.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” says Equine Health Manager for the Georgia DOA Mat Thompson. “The inmates work hard to give these horses a second chance at a head start which also gives the inmates a head-start on their second chance.”
Program participants learn valuable job skills and receive certificates from Central Georgia Technical College in Veterinary Assistance and Animal Healthcare. The inmates can use their training to help them find jobs once they’re released from prison.
The equine auctions are open to the public. The next one, GDC spokesperson Lori Benoit says, will be held when there are between 10 to 15 horses that have been rehabilitated and are ready for new homes.