Kathy Zipp

When Kathy Zipp was first asked to volunteer with Friends of the Animal Shelter, she was hesitant, fearing the sight of animals in need would make her cry.

She volunteered anyway, and has since found a way to help out those animals, as well as inmates at the Western Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center.

Through Puppies for Parole, two prisoners are given a dog to train and prepare for later adoption. She said the three bond and help each other. The prisoners get the comfort of an animal, and the dogs learn the basics they need to be around humans.

“A lot of time, it’s the fist time the prisoner has been loved unconditionally and the dog is loved back,” she said. “They put their whole selves into it.”

Every year, Friends of the Animal Shelter has a celebration for the handlers. Ms. Zipp said many of the inmates say they want to help even after they get out.

To this day, Ms. Zipp doesn’t like going to the St. Joseph animal shelter. But, she’s happy she found a way to volunteer and help the animals in a different capacity.

“Anybody can find something to do to volunteer,” she said.

— Dave Hon

Dave Hon can be reached at david.hon@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPHon.