While the issue of Greyhound racing continues be hotly contested, one program in Western Australia is helping re-home retired greyhounds while also rehabilitating prisoners.
Greyhounds as Pets operates out of WA, and aims to promote and facilitate greyhound pet ownership to the wider community through the provision of safe and healthy greyhounds to homes throughout the state. Now the group has expanded to develop a prison program, where a select group of prisoners care for dogs around the clock.
The first trial of the program took place at Bunbury Regional prison, where retired racing dogs Blaze and Trigger spent several weeks with prisoners, as they learnt how to be pets. Here, the prisoners have shared living arrangements and are required to cook and clean after themselves. Now the addition of the greyhound program means that the prisoners are also learning to look after pets.
Greyhounds as Pets team leader Lauren Savage told the ABC that the prison was a great place for the dogs to learn house rules, “They learn the sights and sounds of kitchens and cooking, they learn how to walk on a leash,” she said. “They’re really just learning from being a working dog to what’s expected of them when they move into living as a pet.”
Bunbury Regional Prison Assistant Superintendent Shane Dowell said the prisoners obtain multiple benefits from being included in the program too, as being entrusted with responsibility helps them prepare for life on the outside. “We’ve had a number of prisoners being involved who had very limited social skills and life skills,” he said.
Many prisoners involved in the program have actually expressed their wishes to adopt a greyhound once they are released.