Prisoners at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre could be looking after Melbourne’s lost dogs and cats under a plan given the green light by Minister for Corrections Wade Noonan.
The proposal comes after concerns the Lost Dogs Home in North Melbourne will not be able to keep up with the rising number of lost pets in Melbourne’s booming western suburbs.
Mr Noonan was approached by Brimbank, Hobsons Bay and Wyndham councils to consider opening an animal rescue centre near the women’s prison in Ravenhall.
Residents in Melbourne’s west who have lost their dog or cat currently have to travel to the Lost Dogs Home or the RSPCA in East Burwood to pick up their pet.
The proposed 24-hour service, to be shared between councils, could provide such things as vet care, adoptions, microchipping, health and sociability assessments, exercise, euthanisations, impoundments, after-hours collection and rehousing of domestic dogs and cats.
As part of the centre, prisoners’ duties are expected to include:
- Caring for animals (feeding, training, exercising)
- Socialising animals to be re-homed
- Cleaning of pens and the centre
- Gardening and landscape maintenance
- Skills training in vet nursing and other roles
- Customer service (for example, barista services)
Only minimum-security prisoners would work at the centre.
Mr Noonan this week gave Corrections Victoria the go-ahead to begin negotiations with the local councils to rent 1.5 hectares of Crown land to build the centre.
He also flagged the possibility that the prisoners’ work could be linked with a TAFE qualification that would make them more employable when the re-entered the general community.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Corrections Wade Noonan
“This could be a good opportunity for minimum security prisoners to learn skills that help them to better be part of society upon returning to the general community.”
“Working with animals would have a positive effect on prisoners. It helps to build trust, empathy and responsibility.”
“It is early days, but the idea has merit and is worth exploring.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020