GAP’s Prison Pet Partnership Program Wins Community Award

The Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) enjoyed one of its proudest moments at Corrections Victoria’s 2008 Community Work Partnership Awards in St. Kilda last week.

The Prison Pet Partnership (PPP), run by the GAP in conjunction with the minimum security Dhurringile Prison in Victoria’s north, beat nine other nominees in the Most Outstanding New Project category.

This was one of nine awards presented in which there were over 40 nominees such as the Graffiti Removal Program and the Bicycle Recycling Program.

Since the PPP was launched as a pilot program in September 2007, some 40 retired greyhounds have been successfully trained and adopted, each being allocated to a prisoner who acts as a foster carer for a period of six weeks at the prison, undergoing an integration and obedience course.

While greyhounds make wonderful pets, the life of a racing greyhound differs greatly to that of a household pet and takes some adjusting. Being in foster care allows the greyhounds to become accustomed to things like socialising with people, household noises such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners, a non-racing diet, slippery floors and climbing steps.

“Dhurringile Prison has become a vital cog in maximising the number of greyhounds that go through the Greyhound Adoption Program. This is because we don’t have a great number of foster carers as many of them fall in love with the dogs they foster and often end up keeping them, leaving them no room to foster any more”, said Larissa Darragh, Manager of Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program, which is based in Seymour and run by Greyhound Racing Victoria.

Incidentally, Dhurringile Officer Roger Jorgensen was named runner-up in the Outstanding Field Officer category for his role in the Prison Pet Partnership.

Last week’s awards ceremony demonstrates the high emphasis Corrections Victoria places on integrating prisoners into the community. The Prison Pet Partnership is set to expand into other minimum security prisons at Beechworth and Tarrangower women’s prison.

Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are extremely placid, sleep most of the day and require little exercise. The Greyhound Adoption Program has adopted over 1,000 retired greyhounds into Victorian families over the past three years.