March 15, 2017
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Published: March 14, 2017
By: Danielle Hauser
To view the article online, visit: http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/hardee-correctional-inmates-help-greyhounds-transition-from-track-to-home/2316450
A state prison might seem an unusual place for a dog, but greyhounds have been common at Hardee Correctional since 2012.
Spunky took part in the 24th session of Hardee Hero Hounds program, which was started by Joanne and Ken Wuelfing, co-founders of the Greyhound Advancement Center.
The Wuelfings work with Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions and Gold Coast Greyhound Adoptions to bring retired, adoptable greyhounds into the Hardee Hero Hounds program. Since the program started in 2012, more than 350 greyhounds have graduated, helping them transition to life off the track.
For eight to 10 weeks, up to 16 greyhounds live at Hardee Correctional, where they learn basic obedience from inmate trainers. Some dogs are in training to become therapy and service dogs.
During this time, the inmate trainers take around-the-clock responsibility for their greyhounds, providing care, food, exercise, socialization and training. In return for training greyhounds, the inmate trainers learn job skills and are eligible to receive a certificate issued by the Florida Department of Corrections.
It's clear from spending time with the inmate trainers — one of whom has worked with 11 dogs — how passionate these men are about the program.
They speak of how it centers them, teaches them patience and responsibility, changes their lives.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 97,000 inmates and supervises nearly 140,000 offenders in the community.