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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

First retired greyhound program under way at Putnamville

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Retired racing greyhounds (from left) Dillinger, Rosy and Grady and their new best friends and handlers (kneeling from left) Aaron Bell, Travis Fitch, Steven Hartzell, Charles Garrison and Charles Johnson, and (back, from left) Mike Hatton, Teresa Hatton, Ed Joslyn, Steve Shotwell, Antonio Munos, Jeff Louden and Mary Louden.
PUTNAMVILLE -- The first Prison Greyhound Program has started at the Putnamville Correctional Facility with the arrival of three greyhounds.

Three retired racing greyhounds -- Dillinger, Rosy and Gordy -- made the long drive from Florida to the Putnamville facility (PCF) to meet their new handlers.

Anxiously awaiting their arrival were offenders Aaron Bell, 29, Crawfordsville; Steven Hartzell, 35, and Harold Johnson, 48, both of Indianapolis; Charles Garrison, 43, Evansville; Travis Fitch, 20, Angola, and Antonio Munos, 39, Fort Wayne.

The three dogs and six offenders are the first participants in the facility's new Prison Greyhound Program.

Upon arrival, dogs and handlers spent some one-on-one time playing and getting to know one another.

"We like to see how the offenders interact with the dogs before we pair them," Prison Greyhound Program president Mary Louden said. "In most cases, the dogs choose who they want to be with."

After a great deal of hand licking and romping, the dogs were taken to the handlers' housing unit where the dogs received their first bath and were shown their new sleeping quarters. An evening feed, one last romp in the "dog yard" and it was lights out for the program's first four-legged friends.

Prison Greyhounds is a non-profit organization that partners retired greyhounds with offender handlers who train and socialize the ex-racers.

Once the dogs have completed a three-month interactive program inclusive of care, feeding, first aid and training, the greyhounds are put up for adoption.

Two retired racing dogs in the Prison Greyhound Program may be fenced in but they can still get some exercise with handler/offender Aaron Bell at the Putnamville Correctional Facility.
Greyhounds were selected for the program because they are social animals that respond exceptionally well to handling and training and have a life expectancy of 12-14 years. The ex-racers must be between the ages of 18 months to three years to participate in the program.

"The offenders were carefully selected for the program based upon stringent criteria that restricted violence or animal cruelty in their current or past criminal history, as well as, other criteria that had to be met," PCF Superintendent Stanley Knight said.

"We take the responsibility of their care and safety seriously and are glad to have the opportunity to offer this type of program at the facility," Knight added.

During the course of the program the offenders and dogs will attend weekly sessions designed to help the greyhounds transition from the life of racing into loving family members. Having offenders as handlers evokes a sense of compassion and unconditional love within the offender and promotes rehabilitation through the dog-human bond.

Mary and Jeff Louden, president and vice president of the organization respectively, and program volunteers Mike and Teresa Hatton will provide instruction.

Facility case manager Ed Joslyn is the program coordinator, assisted by case manager Steve Shotwell.

Organization representatives report that there is a vast need for families to provide homes for the intelligent, loving greyhounds or the dogs will continue to sit in cages at race tracks with their careers over, face sale to laboratories or be euthanized.

Greyhounds have companioned pharaohs and inspired artists throughout history. If you are considering providing a home to these ex-racers, you are invited to visit www.prisongreyhounds.org.

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This is unbelievable. Greyhounds are enslaved by the racing industry, and now they're being imprisoned with convicted criminals? Our greyhounds deserve better than this. They deserve to be with a family, resting on the couch in the living room. Not in a prison cell with criminals.

-- Posted by Eric_NM on Sat, Apr 14, 2012, at 1:01 AM

I have two retired racing greyhounds that went through a similar program. The dogs and inmates become close friends and it is quite sad when the time comes for the dogs to go to their forever homes. Lots of tears are shed. The inmates and dogs are both winners. I am very thankful for these programs. My dogs were very fortunate to be part of such a program. I am very fortunate also. I love these dogs. I am very happy to hear of this new adventure. Thanks to all who helped make it happen. Good luck to the inmates and dogs! You are making a difference. Thank you!

-- Posted by susie greydog on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 9:05 PM

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