Cats Guard Garden, Touch Hearts at Jail

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By Samme

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(Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Daily Camera Via AP)

Cats and plants can make a man feel differently about himself, especially if the man is an inmate in the county jail.

“You never think you’d have a big tough guy get teary-eyed when he gets to see a cat,” Sgt. Paul Harger told John Bear, a reporter for the Daily Camera. But apparently Charlie and Adra have purred their way into the hearts of the men who tend the organic garden at the Boulder County Jail.

Charlie and Adra were brought in to hunt mice and scare away rabbits, and are perennial favorites among the inmates. “Those guys are really fond of those cats,” Heger said.” One inmate got in trouble and couldn’t work in the garden, he said. “He kept asking about the cat. He didn’t care about anything else. That’s a big step for some of these guys.”

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(Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Daily Camera Via AP)

Gardening is a positive experience for the inmates picked for the job, which is highly coveted. One of the lucky chosen ones is Andrew Johnson, who is fond of the feline garden guardians. “It opens up inmates and gives them something they are learning,” Heger said. “It’s something they can take with them instead of bad experiences and bad ideas from other inmates.”

The inmates are trained by master gardeners who volunteer their time and expertise. The cats arrived ready to work.  “The kitten is the one that likes to mouse,” Sgt. Paul Heger said. “The other one is OK. They catch mice and keep them out of the plants, so we don’t have to use chemicals.”

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