COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A new program in the Shoals aims to help two groups living behind bars – from the animal shelter to the county jail.

Corey Speegle, Director of the Colbert County Animal Shelter, tells News 19 that shelters everywhere are always in desperate need of help, supplies and volunteers, and that’s no different for the Tuscumbia facility.

Colbert County Sheriff Eric Balentine and County Administrator Roger Creekmore came to Speegle with an idea, where non-violent offenders known as trustees would have the opportunity to spend time helping out around the building.

(Colbert Co. Sheriff’s Office)

“I like to do stuff like this anyway,” said inmate trustee Timothy Kilburn. “It’s actually helped me a lot, not just to enjoy the fresh air, but being able to help. You also get treated like a human instead of just an inmate.”

Kilburn explained that he has done maintenance, handyman and construction-type work for over 20 years, and has even been able to point out problems they weren’t there to fix.

“He noticed the doors weren’t aligned and weren’t shutting right, and said ‘I can fix that,'” explained Speegle. “And we let him!”

On Wednesdays and Fridays, the director picks up two trustees from the jail around 7:45 a.m. and brings them lunch – but its an all-hands-on-deck kind of work. Speegle said they’re not afraid to work, and are usually sweating it out as they work.

“The very first day they came out here,” recalled Speegle, “they mixed up several bags of concrete to repair the outdoor kennels where dogs had been digging under the fence line and along the playground runs.”

From fixing latches and bolts, to cleaning and sanitizing the kennels, Speegle said the new program has been therapeutic for both the animals and the trustees.

A 15-year-old bulldog mix named Dixie had lost full use of her back legs, dragging them behind her as she tried to run around, greeting everyone and stealing their hearts. But she recently received a new wheelchair with help from the Lauderdale County Animal Shelter, and Speegle said it’s been full steam ahead ever since; “She’s a hot rod, now!”

Kilburn, from Tennessee, said there’s already one dog he’s bonded with and says he “can’t wait” to be released and take them home.

“That’s one thing they have in common,” explained Speegle. “They’re both just waiting for their day to get out and go home.”

Speegle said if the program is able to continue and be successful, they will consider expanding it to three days per week.