Beyond barbed wire, horses help heal at women’s prison

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NIANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — If you head beyond the barbed wire at Connecticut’s female state prison in Niantic, you will come upon a surprising site.

A dozen horses.

It’s a part of a program run in coordination with Connecticut’s department of Agriculture.

“This is Icey. She’s been with us for a while. She’s an Arabian,” said Ray Connors of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

Icey is one of a several horses seized after animal cruelty investigations across Connecticut.

They are brought to the prison to be nurtured back to health, with help from inmates.

“They do everything from help feeding, cleaning out the stalls, moving them around from pen to pen,” said Damian Doran, a Supervisor at the York Correctional Facility.

It’s a safe and secure location.

“They are all here in one place, under our control with our veterinarians were we can bring them back to health under our supervision,” said Connors.

They arrive with a difficult and painful past, a familiar story at a place like a prison.

“The animals have had hard lives, and in some ways the inmates can relate to that because they have had their own struggles, too,” said Doran.

Despite being inside a prison, the environment is full of appreciation, care and nurturing for the animals.

“These were animals that were abused and neglected and they are able to make them more comfortable and take care of them,” said Doran.

At least for a little while, that’s what it’s like for the inmates, too.

“There’s no doubt in my mind when the women come down here to work, they probably forget for a while that they are at a correctional facility,” said Doran.

For the horses, the time in Niantic is meant to be transitional.

The goal is find them a permanent home where they can be cared for.

For those interested in adopting animals or horses seized through the department of agriculture, click here for the application process.

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