Video: People magazine visits the Louisiana's prison-run animal shelter; inmate workers say they gain compassion, purpose as they give _lowres

Zachary Plainsman file photo -- Assistant at the animal shelter, James Ziegler, an offender who also helped build the facility, bonds with a labrador retriever at Pen Pals on the grounds of Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson. Pen Pals is the only animal shelter in East Feliciana Parish.

Within the high barbed wire fences surrounding a prison in Louisiana sits a one-of-a-kind shelter for dogs and cats, run by an animal-loving prison official and staffed by inmates.

People magazine visited the non-profit Pen Pals animal shelter at Dixon Correction Institute in Jackson, which was created to fill a need in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina left tens of thousands of animals abandoned or lost.

As reported in The Advocate, the program serves to benefit both the animals and inmates assigned to their care.

See the People story here.