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Stories of our connected and rapidly changing region.

Maine Rescue Offers Second Chances to Volunteer Inmates and ‘Broken’ Horses

A barn at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals in Windham. Photo by Susan Sharon for Maine Public

A barn at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals in Windham. Photo by Susan Sharon for Maine Public

A few years ago the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals in Windham was struggling financially.

As New England’s largest horse rescue, the nonprofit farm was trying to care for more horses than it could comfortably manage, facilities were in need of an upgrade and some staff were let go. But recently, the society celebrated several milestones, including a major renovation, a budget on the rebound and the completion of 5,000 volunteer hours by some caretakers who’ve become a mainstay: inmates from the women’s prison across the street.

The 40 or so abused and neglected horses and the women who’ve been sentenced to the Maine Correctional Center share something in common, says Merris Bickford, CEO of the MSSPA.

“Some of them are broken. Yet they can recover and they can be rehabilitated and they can go on to wonderful, happy, productive lives,” she says.