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PROBE: Sept. 11, 2001

September 11, 2001

QUESTION: The California Youth Authority Center in Imperial County allows inmates to keep birds, cats and rabbits in their rooms. Right now one of the animals, a genuine alley cat, is sick. They take it everywhere (school, recreation, showers and eating rooms.)

Just looking at the cat makes people sick. They keep the cat's medicine in the refrigerator next to the staff lunches. I get sick every time I get my lunch near the cat's medicine.

The CYA program is drug rehabilitation, not an animal clinic! The animals serve no useful purpose. An inmate was bitten by the sick animal and had to be given first aid. We have been told keeping animals has state approval. We doubt that. — Correctional Officer, El Centro

You may be making a mountain out of a mole hill. Your letter sounds like the state is running a zoo in its youth center. Actually there are two kittens and one baby rabbit, according to Program Director Kevin Ide.

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The rabbit was rescued when it was found in the yard at the center.

"It was not doing well," Ide said.

The kittens were found at job sites where they had been abandoned. They were rescued and brought back to the center.

"We were discussing the rabbit today. It may be a little jackrabbit. We need to return it to the wild before it gets too acclimated to people. It is a wild animal," Ide said.

The pets are in the honor wing, where selected inmates are housed in unlocked rooms, not cells.

The 54 inmates were assigned to the Imperial County facility for parole violations too serious to ignore but not serious enough to merit a parole revocation to a tougher institution.

A PLEASURE TRIP — Not so long ago a trip to the toilet was a pleasure. You could browse through a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogue.

Water pressure has nothing to with flushing a toilet. The water in the tank is no longer under pressure. A toilet that is not connected to the city sewage system may be flushed by pouring 4 gallons of water in the bowl. — Ex-plumber, No Address

Back in the days of the Sears catalogue, you risked getting a splinter in your rump sitting on the old three-holer out back. When modern plumbing brought the daily ritual inside, the need for toilet tissue arose.

Today, folks who like to tarry in the bathroom usually want better reading material than a Sears catalogue. We know people who keep stacks of magazines in their "restrooms." We've seen bookshelves in some.

The good thing about the ole outhouse was you never had to call a plumber.

QUESTION: When will the west wind blow? I am sick of summer. — Native Valleyite, Calexico

If you're sick of summer, you can with some justification, declare it over. The kids are back in school so it must be fall. The wind has been blowing from the west almost every night.

So turn down (up?) the air conditioner and put on the soup pot.

The old-timers believed the west wind would blow Sept. 12, dropping temperatures about 10 degrees. Remarkably that timetable is close to the mark most years. It was off by a mile last year. We blamed that on global warming messing up established weather patterns.

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