School’s out for the year, but for the dogs in the all-volunteer Prison Greyhounds foster program, classes are still in session. At the Putnamville Correctional Facility near Greencastle, Ind., two-man inmate handler teams work with retired racing Greyhounds to prepare them for life on the outside.
Specially selected inmates are coached by Prison Greyhounds volunteers; once trained, the men teach the dogs house manners, how to walk on a leash and basic commands. After the dogs are adopted, Prison Greyhounds stays in touch, working with the adopters to ensure a smooth transition, and will rehome a dog in the event a placement doesn’t go as planned.
Inmates selected for this work are nonviolent offenders who, in the process of developing the dogs’ social skills, learn to work as part of a team and be responsible for the success of their canine students. Like the dogs, the men benefit from the experience, as does the larger inmate population.
For example, take Thor, track name, LK’s Hemsworth. The 85-pound tuxedo boy is three years old and described as “confident and friendly.” For Thor and all the dogs it takes in, Prison Greyhounds underwrites the cost of supplies— food, bedding, leashes—as well as vet care, and finds families for the dogs after they graduate from the program. It also provides non-institutional foster homes for dogs who have been retired as a result of racetrack injuries—most commonly, broken legs—and encourages the adoption of dogs with these “repaired fractures.”
Prison Greyhounds’ dogs come from Daytona Beach Kennel Club racetrack in Florida via the nonprofit Greyhound Pet Adoptions of Daytona Beach (GPA Daytona), which is responsible for the full cost of transporting the dogs to non-racing states. This long-distance delivery of Greyhounds from Florida to a better life is pricey: shipping costs for a full load of 28 dogs is $2,100, or $75 per dog. To offset it, Prison Greyhounds has joined GPA Daytona in a campaign they call “A Ticket Home.” Donations are tax-deductible and help dogs on their journey to better lives as someone’s companion.
Prison Greyhounds, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is funded entirely by donations; no taxpayer money is involved and the program is provided free to the Putnamville Correctional Facility. See available dogs and make a contribution to the organization and to A Ticket Home at prisongreyhounds.org.