November 14, 2023 - The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter of Grayling welcomed four students and two staff members from the Shawono Center for a Talent Tour. The Shawono Center provides a secure 40-bed treatment facility for male juveniles between the ages of 12 and 21 who have been adjudicated for one or more felony counts. AuSable’s Executive Director Katelyn Gibbons understands that inmates learn nurturing skills while caring for the shelter animals, and can benefit from a reciprocal caring relationship in which the animals accept and respond positively to them, without regard for their criminal status. This can bolster inmates' self-esteem, an important factor in the development of positive behaviors.
The tour kicked off with a brief information session of Michigan Works! programs and services from Alayne Hansen and Erin O’Rourke. After the students learned about the different jobs and careers in animal welfare from shelter staff member Katie, they got busy socializing and walking dogs, they helped clean up the play yard and cat room, and enjoyed pizza and pop during the wrap-up.
The students had several questions about how Michigan Works! may be able to help them once they are released from the facility. They really enjoyed their tour and getting to work hands-on with the animals.