BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - The Brevard County sheriff will take over the Animal Services Department in October.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey has a plan to deal with a volunteer shortage at the shelters right. He said he'll use jail inmates. Some of the inmates began working as dog walkers Thursday.
The sheriff said there's plenty of work for inmates in and outside of the county shelter, from landscaping to kennel cleanup.
"I'm on break from school now, that's when I try and (volunteer)," said Nicole Price, who volunteers some of her free time at an Animal Service shelter.
Price is a volunteer dog walker at the Brevard County Animal Shelter. But lately, there has been a shortage of volunteers like her. That's why the Sheriff's Office has been training inmates for this duty.
"Any help the animals can get is great no matter who it's coming from," Ivey told Channel 9's Melonie Holt.
Ivey said that help is coming from inmates his county jail. The inmate being used are nonviolent offenders.
"When we first started looking at the merger with Animal Services we looked at supplanting some of the work force with inmate labor, not only in helping repair the facilities and clean up the kennels and things like that
, (but) we knew we could use them to walk the dogs," said Ivey.
Holt asked Ivey if he was concerned about any potential liability having inmates work with the dogs.
"There are liabilities with anything you do with inmates," said Ivey. "You know, we have a similar program, Paws and Stripes, that we've been running for
Ivey said this latest effort will also save taxpayers money and will be good for the inmates as well.
"This is an opportunity where they can do something truly benefiting society and all of the community," said Ivey.
Ivey said he is also in contract negotiations to take over port security. Holt asked if he might use inmate labor there. He said the port already uses state inmate labor and he doesn't see any reason county inmates couldn't do the same.