Boone County inmates foster Humane Society cats through Cuffs and Collars program


By Ann Marie Shambaugh

Michelle Atkinson is always looking for new foster homes for the many animals that are brought to the Humane Society for Boone County. Recently, she found a good one in an unexpected place.

Four cats in need of a home are now living at the Boone County Jail, being cared for by three inmates through the new Cuffs and Collars program.

Since launching the program in January, Atkinson, a Zionsville resident who serves as the director of foster/adoptions for HSBC, said she has already seen a change in the cats and the inmates. The cats are receiving more socialization, she said, and the inmates are learning skills and truly making a difference.

“It would be my hope that this would stick with them when they’re in a dark place. They can remember this positive aspect of their life and cling to that” said Atkinson, adding that she hopes it will encourage them to make positive choices in the future and avoid landing back in jail.

HSBC selected Peaches, Liberty, Chevy and Sabrina because they have lived together previously and have been available for adoption the longest. Once one or more of the cats are adopted out, Atkinson said others will replace them in the program. Eventually, Atkinson would like to add additional cats and begin fostering dogs at the jail, too.

“It’s kind of a companionship between us and the animals,” said Aaron McNut, one of the first inmates selected for the program. “It’s not only beneficial for the animal, but it’s also beneficial for us. We’re not always in contact with family. Sometimes we’d just like to have something else to occupy our time, and do the right thing, too.”

All inmates are screened before being allowed to participate in the program. The cats are able to freely roam through the approved cell block.

Learn more and see animals available for adoption at

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