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11/30/2012 12:13:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
New vocational program trains retired Greyhounds
SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has teamed up with the L.A.R.K. (Loving Arms Rehabilitation Kennel) Program, a rescue and rehabilitation program for retired racing Greyhounds, and the Midwest Greyhound Adoption (MGA) to help prepare the dogs for adoption.

The cost neutral program provides another vocational opportunity for offenders at Robinson Correctional Center and is the first dog training program for male inmates in Illinois.

"The training prepares the Greyhounds for adoption while allowing inmates to build life skills and receive vocational training as they provide supervised care to the animals," said IDOC Director Tony Godinez. "It is proven that recidivism is highly reduced when offenders are able to learn job skills and find employment post incarceration. This program, which is dually beneficial, provides retraining to retired racing Greyhounds while giving inmates the opportunity to learn job skills in dog handling and care management that will assist in acquiring employment once they are released to their communities."

The Greyhound Program provides job skills to offenders, who will serve as handlers and caretakers for the Greyhounds to help re-socialize the dogs.

Two offender handlers, with two alternates, are assigned to each dog. Currently, three dogs are being housed and trained at the center. The center anticipates receiving dogs on an ongoing basis with three dogs residing at the center for some 90 days. As part of the rotation schedule, the program will rotate in two dogs and temporarily keep one dog, who is custom to the environment and can help "lead the way" until the new ones feel comfortable.

The program comes at no cost to taxpayers. MGA handles all the costs, training, supplies and veterinarian services. Offenders are assigned to the program for a year. Upon successful completion, offenders will receive a certificate of program participation and be equipped with skills that will hopefully assist them in gaining employment upon release.

"We are excited to be part of this unique program," said IDOC Chief of Programs and Support Services Debbie Denning. "Other states, such as Indiana in particular, have experienced success with the program. We have seen the effect this program has had on other inmates and believe this will have a positive impact in their lives."

IDOC is committed to operating a safe and secure prison system as well as enhancing prison-based treatment, prevention programs, reducing recidivism and the successful reentry of inmates into society.


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