PENDLETON — Since 2015, inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Facility have taken care of and helped rescue cats from the Animal Protection League in Anderson.
The Feline and Offenders Rehabilitation with Affection, Reformation and Dedication (F.O.R.W.A.R.D) Program is now getting national recognition.
On Oct. 12, F.O.R.W.A.R.D was given the 2022 ASPCA Cat Advocate of the Year Award.
The ASPCA says the award "honors incredible animal and human heroes who reflect the ASPCA’s dedication to animal welfare and our mission of providing effective means for the prevention of animal cruelty and suffering."
"For me, it just shows a different side of them. Most of the time, they want to love on the cats and make sure that they're taken care of. I think some of the incarcerated individuals take care of the cats better than they take care of themselves," Chloe Wargny, an administrative assistant at the facility who works with F.O.R.W.A.R.D, told WRTV.
Wargny says she's seen growth and development from both the cats in their care and the incarcerated individuals. Approximately 60 cats and kittens have spent time at the facility since the program began.
"We have one particular cat who really doesn't like to come out of any place. But there are certain people who, if they come in, they can get that cat to come out and pet them," she said. "It's really rewarding to watch and to see that improvement in both."