A Mouse in the House
One of the pleasures of prison ministry is hearing stories that warm the heart. There are many random acts of kindness in a prison, and sometimes animals bring out the soft side in even the most violent offenders. It turns out that a prison is a veritable menagerie of pets - cats, mice, skunks, spiders and snakes among them. Many prisoners keep pets, a practice which is against prison rules but to which a blind eye is generally turned.
One prisoner kept a mouse as a pet for a couple years. He caught it in his house (his cell, nobody uses this word), and it immediately bit him. He then chunked it in the toilet, and let it swim around for a while (they are great swimmers), and picked it up again, was bitten, and chunked it back in the toilet. When he took it out the second time, the mouse just looked at him.
He would often walk around the prison, in the day room, and especially when he went to chow or rec with the mouse in his pocket. The presence of the mouse was an open secret. He was a virtual vegetarian for this time, as he would bring back his "meat product" or "chicken patty" to the house, and feed his pet in the hall, often with the bosses watching.
The mouse got so comfortable with living with him, that when he left the house, the mouse stayed, so he made him a little bed out of two empty plastic water bottles.
Whew he was in the rec yard, the mouse would run around happily in the grass, but would cower when he saw a pigeon; he must have thought it was a hawk or owl.
The mouse was tragically killed when the inmate's house was tossed in a routine shakedown. The boss (guard, or almost anyone who is not an inmate - I get called "boss" by prisoners when I am walking around the prison, but I tell them I am married) was very sad and apologetic, and was trying to be careful, but had accidentally placed a pile of books on top of him.
I have also heard of the keeping of a bull snake. It was trained to actually latch on to his ear, and he would walk around with it.
Nobody keeps poisonous snakes. If this is discovered, a prisoner is written up with a weapons charge, a very serious infraction.
There are perhaps a dozen cats in one prison I know of. One cat was particularly wonderful (and UN-CATLIKE!). It was a gentle, affectionate creature, and would love to curl up with anyone when they were in the day room , or watching TV. The guys were very protective of her. She eventually had a little of kittens, and a boss took her home.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2013 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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