Orange County inmates train greyhounds to become companion pets

Hounds with Hearts program at Central Florida Reception Center

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Five greyhounds went home to their forever families on Friday after learning a few new tricks at the Central Florida Reception Center.

Through the facility’s greyhound training program, inmates are able to teach dogs basic commands, a few tricks and receive a certificate at the end of their training for basic dog obedience training.

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Rolando Davila-Deleon has been a part of the training program for four years. He said it has helped him in more ways than one.

“You know, I’m professional with the skills I can say that. And I completed the program two years ago, and now I can go outside when I have the opportunity and can work with training dogs and help people you know at the same time,” Davila-Deleon said.

The training program for the dogs is 10 weeks long. On Friday, inmates were able to show off their hard work at the 19th Greyhound Advancement Center Graduation.

“That makes me good because when we train the dogs whatever we do -- the dog is going to talk about us,” Davila-Deleon said. “That’s why we need to prepare the dogs to present themselves good so that we can do good.”

The Central Florida Reception Center’s Warden Shellie Baker, said programs like this one are vital when it comes to eliminating inmate idleness.

“There’s a saying that says ‘What happens with idle hands,’” Baker said. “So, I can’t speak enough on the different types of programs that not only we have at the Central Florida Reception Center, but throughout all of our prisons here in the state of Florida.”

Baker said the program teaches inmates intangible skills too.

“One of the biggest things our inmates get out of this program is patience and the ability to communicate with something that doesn’t share the same forms of communicating,” Baker said.

While the five greyhounds graduated on Friday, there are six new dogs coming into the program that will be trained by the inmates.

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Emily joined WKMG-TV in November 2022.