Prisoners And Pups hits the road as ex-racing greyhound adoption program grows

A documentary about prisoners training ex-racing greyhounds may be last year's news at the Adelaide Film Festival (AFF), but the program itself continues to grow and 170 dogs have now been trained and found new homes.

Filmmaker Shalom Almond premiered Prisoners And Pups at the 2017 AFF after spending four months documenting the lives of inmates at Adelaide Women's Prison.

The film followed the prisoners as they trained the greyhounds to be pets and before being put up for adoption to the public.

"The dogs have to live with them, share a room with them, spend 24 hours a day with them for roughly eight weeks," she said.

"Seeing how close they become, how attached they become to these animals for their everyday comfort and survival in the prison, and then when they have to say goodbye.

"The attachment they formed in that space of time was incredible."

Ms Almond said the program had been so successful in helping the women by turn their lives and behaviour around in the prison that it had been expanded to include the men's Mobilong Prison near Murray Bridge.

The greyhound adoption program is run by Greyhound Racing SA and involves rehoming former racing dogs that are retired or didn't make it onto the track.

A spokesperson said the women's prison trained up to eight greyhounds at any given time and that the Mobilong prisoners could train up to 16 at a time.

Hitting the road

Ms Almond is preparing to screen her documentary to audiences across South Australia in a tour of 13 venues during November.

She said the "unbelievable privilege" of being allowed into the prison to shine a light on the lives of inmates was something she wanted to share with "new audiences and diverse communities".

"I thought I would be scared and intimidated being in an environment like that," she said of the filming.

"In fact, it was the opposite.

"From day one, and my first day of shooting in there, the women welcomed me with open hearts and made me feel so comfortable and at ease."

The filmmaker worked inside the prison for eight hours a day, four days a week, over four months.

"It completely changed all of the stereotypes that you have in your mind about what a women's prison would be like."

While the women in prison were easy to work with, the same couldn't be said of the greyhounds.

"The only thing we see of them in mainstream life is on the racetrack, but in real life they are the laziest, sleepiest, most peaceful dogs I've ever known," she said.

"They've got a window of maybe an hour when they'll be energetic and want to run around and play, and the rest of the time they just want to sleep."

This meant on a day when she had a certain dog in mind for shooting, the dog might not feel like obliging.

"Most of the days we couldn't even get the dog off its bed."

By Malcolm Sutton

Posted 16 Oct 2018, 2:15pm