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.