Racing Home Rescue Group volunteer Marcie Bailey says the dogs will give inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy more hope, company and encouragement.
"This program could possibly grow to 12 dogs per each 9-week session in both facilities in Eloy," said Bailey. "That could place up to 120 dogs per year into forever homes. Plus, it will heal the spirits and give vocational training to up to 50 inmates looking for unconditional love, some of them for the first time in their lives."
Inmates who have already participated in the program just had a first graduation ceremony and welcomed in four new dogs.
The previous greyhounds were all adopted immediately, two of them by prison employees.
Bailey says the inmates get emotional when it comes time to let the dogs go to be with their new owners.
"They would have been devastated if they had not gotten another dog," she said.
Each greyhound is adopted for 10 weeks by two inmates, and lives with them in their cells 24 hours a day.
Retired greyhounds are typically adopted after their racing careers, but often have to be put down if rescue groups can't find owners for them.
Bailey says the inmates teach the dogs basic obedience, and sometimes tricks.
She says the program has been popular on the east coast, but that she is not aware of any such programs on this side of the country.
Experts say greyhounds are great with kids, other dogs and even cats and small animals.
Violent criminals and sex offenders are not allowed to foster the dogs. Bailey says most of the participants are serving time for drug charges.
To see prisoner testimonials about their partnerships with the greyhounds, and to find out information about adoption, visit www.racinghome.info.