Greyhounds Trained by Inmates Help Vets with PTSD

By: Mike Springer Email
By: Mike Springer Email

Gretna, FL --May 16, 2012--

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But one local prison is doing just that.

Just a few miles over the Gretna border, sits the Gadsden Correctional Facility. The private, medium security women's prison is home to more than 1500 inmates. And about a dozen, four legged, furry guests.

Every several months, greyhounds will pass through Purple Hearts Program, learning the skills necessary to become a worthy companion for a veteran suffering from post traumatic stress.

" A lot of us are in here because we made a selfish decision. And to be able to help someone one who made a self-less decision, to be able to help them, in here, is an awesome feeling," says Dixie Kennedy an inmate who trains the dogs.

The dogs are retired from the tracks and are trained by the inmates as they start their second career. They learn to do everything from turning on lights to giving hugs and kisses. But the dogs aren't just students. In some ways they're teachers.

"It's been a learning experience for me too, becoming a part of a team and working with someone and working together. That's made it wonderful," says Donna Buchanan, an inmate who trains the dogs.

Teaching them it's never too late fresh start. Never too late for second chance.

The program is self-funded by Management and Training Corporation and The Greyhound Foundation. The greyhounds are sent to veterans all across the country, free of charge. The dogs are up to date on all their shots and vaccines.

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  • by AaronC Location: NZ on May 18, 2012 at 10:53 PM
    This sure is great, and its nice for the hounds to be in the company of criminals who want to turn their lives around, rather than criminal types who are just out to exploit these lovely animals. Good on you Beverly.
  • by Erica Location: Madison, WI on May 18, 2012 at 08:30 AM
    This story is just the BEST!!! A true WIN,WIN,WIN!
    • reply
      by Beverly Sebastian on May 18, 2012 at 03:52 PM in reply to Erica
      Dear Erica, This is truly a Win, Win situation for everyone. I'm the creator of the 2nd Chance at Life Greyhound Prison program and the Purple Heart Greyhound Service Dog program. Since 2006, 2nd Chance has been rehabilitating people with PTSD in prison, now we're able to help our veterans with the same thing. Check out the website at and to meet the dogs, and see the programs at work. Enjoy. Drop me a note. Cordially, Beverly
  • by lb Location: va on May 18, 2012 at 03:41 AM
    Greyhounds are so sensitive to their people's emotions. I worry about the dogs who will be put with people suffering from PTSD. Surely there are other dogs that are not so sensitive that can be trained to do this instead.
    • reply
      by Beverly Sebastian on May 18, 2012 at 03:48 PM in reply to lb
      Hi, Your comments about the greyhounds leads me to believe you have one. They truly are so sensitive to people's feelings. Don't worry about these wonderful dogs having difficulty with people with PTSD. For 6 years they have been rehabilitating incarcerated men and women with PTSD in prisons. You can read the comments from these people on the website, and meet and see some of the Purple Heart Greyhound Service dogs as they train to help people with anxiety, depression, socialization and things like that. Its incredible what they can do. Read the story of SOX, the deformed little dog that no one wanted and now he's one of our top trained dogs looking for that special veteran. This is just another way these beautiful animals can give their love to people and show the world what great healers they can be. Thanks and God Bless you and yours. Beverly
  • by Paul on May 17, 2012 at 06:59 AM
    Programs like this are springing up across the country. In Leon County there is a program for abandoned dogs. They are trained by inmates to make them more adoptable. The inmates actually do learn compassion from the dogs. The recipients of the animals, vets or adopters, find themselves with great dogs, and we all benefit. I train my dogs and the bonding between us is far greater than if we didn't train together. Yes, I said train together. It seems dogs love to communicate, train (fun and play for them), and the trust. It is one of the best rehabilitation programs for the inmates. They have to learn to train and that requires the patience of a really good parent. It helps there as well? Yup. I had one instructor who would not let me yell, correct, or even say 'no' It was all positive reinforcement. It worked! Seems totally counter intuitive to us humans. Hmm, patience, compassion, attention. It works on dogs.
    • reply
      by Beverly Sebastian on May 18, 2012 at 03:42 PM in reply to Paul
      Paul, Sounds like you've been there. You're right, there are program popping up all over everywhere, but none really like the 2nd Chance at Life Greyhounds & Inmate Prison Partnership program and now, there is nothing like the Purple Heart Greyhound Service Dogs program. No one ever thought greyhounds could co something like this and they are terrific. Check our our websites at and and enjoy. Read some of the inmate stories. You'll agree. Its a WIN-Win situation for everyone. Drop me a note.
  • by Emily Location: Gadsden on May 17, 2012 at 04:25 AM
    This is an excellent program and one I hope will be emulated in other correctional facilities across the state and nation. This is a win for everyone involved.
    • reply
      by Beverly on May 18, 2012 at 03:10 PM in reply to Emily
      Thank you for your kind comments. I formulated the program from our 2nd Chance at Life Prison partnership program which has been work in prisons across the country for 7 years. This is the first venture into training Service Dogs. Check us out at and You'll enjoy it.
  • by Trish Location: Jacksonville on May 16, 2012 at 07:17 PM
    I can say that the greyhounds are a wonderful thing to be around after being in the same dorm with them.I was there for 2 1\2 groups that came in and they are so very special in so many ways
    • reply
      by Beverly on May 18, 2012 at 03:12 PM in reply to Trish
      Thank you for your kind comments. I'm the creator of the 2nd Chance atLife/Purple Hearts Greyhound Service dogs programs. If you'd like to see our program at work go to and where you can see them training, and meet new dogs up for adoption. They are truly wonderful.
  • by Awesome on May 16, 2012 at 04:10 PM
    Now...if they'd just shut down the tracks in the first place.
    • reply
      by dog lover on May 18, 2012 at 07:59 AM in reply to Awesome
      I agree 100%. Dog racing is something that should be eliminated. Wherever you have dog and horse racing, you also have abject cruelty. Even horse shows are dens of cruelty -- horses, cows, calves, are hurt and sometimes destroyed. The last time I went to a western show, a calf had its leg broken by a roper. As the poor thing limped away, I decided to give up on shows. Veal? Wouldn't touch the stuff, but that's another story. We can do better. Treating animals with respect and concern is a reflection of an evolved society. I pray that we get there one day. All God's creatures are sacred, and we should treat them that way.
      • reply
        by Beverly on May 18, 2012 at 03:18 PM in reply to dog lover
        Thanks for your comment. I'm the creator of the greyhound prison programs 2nd Chance at Life and Purple Heart Greyhound Service Dogs. We have been operating 2nd Chance at Life across the country for over 6 years. These are God's creature and God gave me the idea and the know how to do it, in 2006. Today, we depend on Him for all our needs. Come visit and enjoy. Beverly
    • reply
      by Beverly on May 18, 2012 at 03:15 PM in reply to Awesome
      Thank you! I'm the creator of the Greyhound prison dog programs, both 2nd chance at Life and Purple Heart Greyhound Service Dogs. Please visit our website and see more what these wonderful dogs can do. Go to and and meet the dogs up for adoption, watch them train and enjoy them. This is just one more way we're finding to save some more of their lives. Cordially, Beverly
  • by dog Location: gone on May 16, 2012 at 02:13 PM
    a Prison Program that WORKS for Everyone.
  • by kbs Location: tally on May 16, 2012 at 12:49 PM
    GREAT idea and win-win-win situation for the dog, who would be put down post-career, the inmate and the vet!
    • reply
      by Beverly on May 18, 2012 at 03:22 PM in reply to kbs
      Wish I could take credit for the idea but the good Lord gave it to me, along with the funds to make it work in 2006. Come see the programs at work at and and drop me a note. Thank you again.
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