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News from PrisonerActionNet

Homing retired greyhounds at HMP Littlehey

HMP Littlehey have a longstanding partnership with the Retired Greyhound Trust to prepare racing greyhounds after they have left the track for homing in the community. Six dogs live in large purpose built kennels within the prison grounds (converted from an old basketball court) at any one time and on average the dogs stay for 3 months before moving to their new homes.

Six prison orderlies, who are all ‘redbands’, look after the dogs all day to a planned and well-organised schedule.  They work to a plan agreed with the RGT to improve the dog’s welfare and preparedness for social settings, as the dogs have lived in kennels during their racing years.  As well as feeding and exercising the dogs, the prison orderlies have to weigh them regularly, make sure their teeth are in good health and generally care for the dogs.  The orderlies also keep detailed records of the dogs’ welfare and progress.  The prisoners are also undertaking level 1 and 2 qualifications in animal care. 

Working with the greyhounds is very popular with prisoners and the emotional benefits are very obvious when we visited the dogs and the prisoners.  Both the orderlies and the dogs form strong and rewarding bands of emotional attachment. The orderlies have a keen sense of the dogs’ individual needs and personalities. The journey for the dogs towards returning to the community and living in an ordinary homes is powerfully symbolic of the journey towards rehabilitation that the offenders are also hopefully on, even though many of the orderlies are serving long sentences and are unlikely to be released soon. 

Prison staff reported that the level of engagement and motivation with the regime and staff from previously hard to engage prisoners is very noticeable among those prisoners who work as orderlies with the greyhounds.

On June 13th, 2016 representatives from nine prisons all over the country visited HMP Littlehey, met the dogs and the orderlies that look after them and heard more about the project from the Governor HMP Littlehey, Dave Taylor, the Head of Learning and Skills, Linda Callander and the Chief Executive of the Retired Greyhound Trust, Lisa Morris-Tomkins about how the project works, what it cost, how the qualifications work and what they felt the project had achieved for the dogs, the offenders and the prison. Many of the prisons that visited are now looking to replicate the project in a partnership with the Retired Greyhound trust in their own prisons. 

Lemos&Crane are delighted to have introduced this wonderful project to other prisons and we are confident that soon many other prisons will be running similar projects, with the many and obvious benefits both for the dogs and the offenders.

 

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