Prisoners and Pups

In the Adelaide Women’s Prison, a small group of prisoners have signed up to take part in a trial program to foster ex-racing greyhounds and get them ready for adoption.

The greyhounds have been born and raised in kennels, never knowing the sights and sounds of life beyond the racetrack. Trained only to chase a lure at high speed, most don’t know their names or how to take food from someone’s hand.

They are among thousands of greyhounds that are bred for racing in Australia every year and then retired – or rejected as poor racers – and put up for adoption.

The prisoners have just eight weeks to socialise and transform these institutionalised dogs into obedient, house-friendly pets. None of them have ever trained a dog before.

After spending most of their lives in cages with other dogs, the greyhounds are confused and frightened by the strange world of people. At the end of the eight weeks, they undergo a strict test to make sure they’ve been ‘civilised’ and are suitable for adoption. If they fail, they can never be placed in a home, and some may even be euthanised.

Curriculum Links

Prisoners and Pups (Study Guide here) is relevant to students from Grades 5/6 to Years 10/11. The curriculum links include


Prisoners and Pups throws up a wide range of very important social, cultural, ethical and political issues that are of both interest and relevance to all Australians. Many of these cross curricula issues are included in both State and National curriculum.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (December 2009-18), frames the Australian National Curriculum It states that

As well as knowledge and skills, a school’s legacy to young people should include national values of democracy, equity  and justice, and personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience and respect for others….

The Declaration also notes that students

…. are able to make sense of their world and think about how things have become the way they are …. embrace opportunities, make rational and informed decisions about their own lives and accept responsibility for their own actions

This documentary is a relevant teaching and learning resource for further developing a range of students’ understandings and skills and their capacity to contribute to a socially just environmentally sustainable society.

The film explores issues central to the human rights of all of us – personal safety, shelter, social equity, collective responsibility and individual freedoms. These are very pertinent to the goals of the above Australian National Curriculum, being linked to the development of problem solving skills and the clarification of personal values for the common good.

Prisoners and Pups is available for streaming through Australian Teachers of Media.