First Graduation at Hardee Correctional Institute

Greyhound Advancement Center performed its first graduation ceremony at Hardee Correctional Institute.  Six full time students (Bo, Bolt, Hedly, Madison, Orion, and Shannon) and one “boot camp” student (Yoshi) demonstrated their newly-acquired skills before their diplomas for Basic Obedience were presented.  Certified professional trainer Phyllis Mazzarisi led the demonstrations and helped present the diplomas. Also awarded diplomas were the first 19 inmate trainers and a special award was presented to the resident inmate “vet tech assistant”.

Following the award presentations, several dogs and their teams demonstrated additional tricks their dogs had learned.  Bolt was awarded the first “Top Dog” award.  Bolt passed all of the graduation criteria despite missing a significant portion of the training session while mostly paralyzed as the result of a probable stroke.

Prison management, including the Regional Director of Corrections, Warden,  Assistant Warden , and Officer in Charge of the training program spoke to an audience that included the adopters of Bo, Madison, and Shannon.  Linda Lyman of Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions (BAGA), which sponsored three dogs into the program, was introduced and said a few words to each segment of the audience.  Bill Sharpsteen of Goldcoast Greyhound Adoptions, which also sponsored three dogs, could not attend, but sent a message of support.

Afterward, Greyhound Advancement Center offered their heartfelt thanks to all parties involved in the difficult task of initiating and operating such a program, and announced some upcoming new programs.  Then the group enjoyed snacks and some time to talk informally.

Press coverage of the event can be found at the Channel 8 News site.

All dogs in the first class have been adopted.

Ten dogs will be participating in the second class, which will also expand the number of inmate trainers involved.  These hounds have recently arrived at the institution, and training will begin next week.  The dogs will soon be listed on our Adoptions page.  The students in this class are again sponsored by the Goldcoast Greyhound Adoptions and Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions, and the forms for adoptions may be found here for BAGA and here for GCGA.

Cash donations to the Greyound Advancement Center made be made here.  The GAC Amazon wishlist is another way to donate items that will go directly into use in a GAC program.

Contact information for the Greyhound Advancement Center can be found here.

Greyhound Advancement Center

The Greyhound Advancement Center works hand-in-hand with greyhound tracks, farms, transport, adoption groups, etc. to ensure more effective placement into forever homes, while promoting a positive image of greyhounds as companion, therapy and service dogs.

Through our work we educate the public regarding the gentle nature, wonderful temperament, and intelligence of the Greyhound breed.

The GAC has a growing list of alliances with greyhound tracks, farms, transport and adoption groups to help place greyhounds into loving forever homes.   Adoption groups and other partners sponsor greyhounds in our prison training and other programs.  We also work with individuals and families who would like their greyhound trained in basic through advanced commands.  As another service, we provide boarding when you must travel and leave your greyhound behind.

We have graduated dogs trained in basic obedience at the Hardee County Correctional Institution through an established program.  Inmate trainers there have been through extensive training with a certified service dog trainer, and continue to receive training on a regular basis.  Our therapy dogs are suitable for nursing homes or a private environment.   Our established ‘Boot Camp’ program is an excellent option for greyhounds with homes to learn the basics or as a refresher course.

For those with more special needs, we will also offer greyhounds trained as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Service Dogs.  We are also planning a greyhound truancy program during 2013, aimed at keeping youngsters out of trouble and out of prison.

We currently directly serve Tampa, St. Petersburg, Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida.  Transport is available to selected areas of the USA and Canada, and is expanding.  We are happy to welcome new adoption groups to participate in our prison training program, or provide assistance for starting their own.   Individuals interested in adopting a prison-trained greyhound are referred to our adoption group partners but we will gladly answer any questions you may have.  Visit our adoption page for greyhounds currently available for adoption.

Our primary focus is with greyhounds but may, in the future, expand our programs to work with mixed and other breeds.  We are also happy to help organizations establish their own prison training program.

About our Partnership with Hardee Correctional Institution

We have established continually operating basic obedience and ‘boot camp’ programs at HCI, with strong support from management.  These programs will continue to expand, and we anticipate moving into advanced training here in the future.  See the blog below for more developments and ‘Events‘ for upcoming activities.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune Article

The the feature article of the Sunday, September 16 issue of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is titled “Greyhounds Bred to Race, Retrained to Mend Lives” and is about the capabilities and uses of retired greyhound dogs.

Specifically, it addresses prison training, the effects on inmate trainers, the impact of greyhound service dogs, and especially the capabilities of the breed.  It should give readers a glimpse into the types of success stories we see firsthand.  And most of all, it clearly demonstrates the capabilities that most people just don’t know greys possess.

The online article, linked above, also contains a photo gallery and video.  Each of these is well done and augments the story.  These are the kind of stories that the Greyhound Advancement Center wants to continue to communicate to the public.  Give it a look, and we encourage you to comment.