See incredible photos of a jail where inmates and abandoned animals find a second chance.

Mike Smith was out of jail for 10 days when he blacked out while drinking and was arrested alongside a busy street in Key West.

When he sobered up, he was back in jail. By his own admission, he was not surprised to be there. The blacking out had happened before.

"I’m done," Smith told himself. "If I don’t stop, I’m gonna spend the rest of my life in prison."


He has no recollection of being arrested, half a block off Duval Street.

This time, Smith knew he would have to do a small stint before he could get a spot in a substance abuse program.

In the interim, he signed up to be a trustee at the jail, working on a farm that for the last two decades has become a corner of Monroe County where abandoned, abused, confiscated, and donated animals from around the country have found refuge behind razor wire.

It's a place where a miniature horse named Bam Bam grazes his days away on a pasture as men in orange jumpsuits muck stalls and make sure water dishes are brimming.


Snowflake the alpaca is shown here as inmate Michael Smith visits with Arabella at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm. All photos by Kim Raff, used with permission.

Inmate Orlando Gonzalez shows Boots the alligator to visitors during an open house day.

Curator Jeanne Selander holds Mo the sloth, the most well known animal at the farm.

Smith was amazed on his first day at the farm at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Stock Island Detention Center.

"I figured it’d be just a couple of pigs, maybe," he said. "I didn’t know there was gonna be snakes and lizards and alligators and everything else."

21 years ago, out on the busy road that runs alongside the jail, a flock of ducks was losing its battle with traffic. In response to their dwindling numbers, a fence was erected, a pond put in, and a few picnic tables where the guards took breaks. But the sanctuary didn’t stay small for long. And as word spread through the "coconut telegraph" — the unofficial gossip tree that spans the Florida Keys — the jail’s animal population began to increase and diversify. There was a lot of need, and it turned out the jail was beginning to look like the place to fill it.

Attention-hound Misty, a Moluccan cockatoo, repeatedly says “I love you” to visitors.

Gonzalez crouches down with Fat Albert, who escaped from his owner's home and was found roaming a hotel parking lot before being brought to the farm.

Gonzalez and Smith clean out animal pens.

Curator Jeanne Selander — or Farmer Jeanne as she’s known — runs the farm with the trustees.

For the inmates, it’s a way to make daily escapes from the jail in order to feed and clean the animals and build their trust. Selander came to the farm almost 10 years ago with a background in marine biology. She was working for the Key West Aquarium with veterinarian Dr. Doug Mader when the job opened up, and he encouraged her to apply. She had a love for animals, but she’d never stepped foot in a jail and was apprehensive about working alongside inmates.

Selander and Mo visit with a crowd during an open house at the farm.

After landing the job, Selander, still unsure, visited the site with Mader as he did his rounds. "I thought, 'What a neat little place' and how much more could be done with it. After I saw how the [previous] farmer interacted with the inmates and that it was a safe environment, I thought, 'Yeah, I could do this.'"

On Selander’s first day, 25 animals were roaming around. Most of them were farm animals, and most were of the petting-zoo variety.

Gonzalez shows Boots to visitors during an open house.

Bam Bam grazes in an enclosure. He is blind in one eye and was abandoned on the side of a canal with five other horses in Homestead, Florida.


Smith cradles Thumper, a flemish giant rabbit, as Fat Albert waddles over, looking for attention.

Today, Stock Island Detention Center is home to 150 animals, including Maggie, one of three sloths, and an alpaca named Snowflake.

Then there’s Peanut, a miniature horse found wandering in the Everglades after being abandoned by her owner.

The animals arrive at the farm through a network Selander builds with animal rescues throughout the country. The network focuses on finding homes for animals like Sherman, an African spurred tortoise, acquired during a raid on a crack house in Denver, Colorado. Or Ghost, a blind and elderly horse believed to be in his late 20s who arrived at the farm in 2008 as no more than skin and bone after being abandoned in a remote county of the state and who passed away last October.

Smith had known Ghost well. The horse would be spooked and stubborn at times. Some of the other inmates had a healthy fear of Ghost, but Smith made a connection.

"I just felt comfortable around him," he said. "And seeing that everyone else was uncomfortable around him, I knew that I had to do what I had to do to make sure he was taken care of right and not neglected. Doing something good when I was in a pretty bad situation myself, it really gave me peace," he said.

Smith brushes Ghost, a blind horse that frightens easily which has taught people who handle him to be patient, gentle, and build trust.

Some of the inmates "try to be the big burly guys with the attitude," Selander said. "And that always used to move me whenever I’d see them talking to the blind horse because that’s a bond they’re forming with an animal that needs them."

Twice a month, the farm invites the public in to fawn over the animals. Selander’s outreach into the community and the reputation of the farm­ means it’s not unusual for bi­-monthly Sunday open houses to draw in as many as 200 people. Many of them are greeted by Mo the sloth, who is regularly an ornament cradled in Selander’s arms as guests arrive.

"Everyone thinks he is hugging me, but really he just thinks I’m a tree," Selander said.

Signs directing visitors to the animal farm hang along the Monroe County Detention Center’s fence.

It’s the community support that allows for the farm to continue its work. The farm is completely funded by donations. No tax dollars go to fund the project.

"If I ever need anything, the community really steps up to help," said Selander.

Along with the inmates.

"A lot of the inmates maybe have never had anybody that cared about them," she said. "And to see that the animals need them ... it means something to them. And they really take good care of them and I have some of them say, 'You’re in jail just like me.'"

Gonzalez and Smith move animals from their pens to the courtyard to graze.

Today, Smith is finishing up treatment and has found work.

He is sober. But he fondly remembers his time on the farm with Misty the Moluccan cockatoo that he snuck orange slices to. The one that followed him around the farm cooing, "I love you."

"It kept me focused," Smith said. "Spiritually, it helped me a lot. I definitely won’t forget it; that’s for sure."

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.