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American Greyhound – Finding forever homes for retired racers

Written by Carl Kurek. Posted in Featured, Pets

Published on November 26, 2014 with No Comments

American Greyhound is always looking for new “Polar Bears” to participate in their annual Polar Plunge fundraiser on New Year’s Day. For more information, call 219-771-0892 or visit www.americangreyhound.org.

Dog racing sounds like a pastime from … the past, but unfortunately there are still commercial tracks where greyhounds are forced to race for gambling purposes in seven states within the U.S. These states are Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, Iowa, West Virginia, Alabama and Florida.

All of these states have either one or two operational tracks except Florida, which has 12. It is estimated that 8,000 greyhounds are housed at track kennel compounds throughout the state. In 2010, police searched the compounds of a track that was in operation at the time and found 37 dogs, only four of which were alive.

From tracks like these and the breeding “farms” that fill them with racers, thousands of greyhounds are discarded every year after they are either injured or are no longer winning races for their owners. This usually occurs when the dog is only 2-3 years of age.

At that point the former racers have limited options – some are sent back to be used for breeding while countless others are killed. But some are lucky enough to fall into the care of a rescue group.

There are many such groups across the country dedicated to saving as many of these retired racers as possible. One such group, headquartered right here in Northwest Indiana, is American Greyhound/Great Lakes, Inc.

This non-profit is committed to promoting public awareness about what great, loving pets retired greyhounds can be. The group is made up of volunteers who ensure the greyhounds receive proper vet care after they arrive in the region. The dogs then go to a foster home where they get the chance to learn how enjoyable life can be as a pet, and ultimately they are adopted into good homes where they can live out the rest of their lives.

Nicole Graves, foster coordinator for American Greyhound, adopted her first greyhound in 2010 after moving to Northwest Indiana with her husband.

As an educator, Graves knew she wanted to get more involved in her new community and after adopting her hound from the group, she knew it would be the perfect way to do so.

“I’ve been an animal lover my whole life,” she said. “It really is rewarding to be a part of this organization and get to work with people that have the same hearts as you do to save these animals.”

Most of the dogs that come into the care of American Greyhound originate from Florida and Alabama. In order to safely transport the dogs on the long trek, the group used funds raised at their inaugural Winning Hearts Not Races charity auction in 2010 to purchase a transport hauler.

That hauler has enabled the rescue to transport more than 100 dogs every year from other states to safety here in Northwest Indiana. Graves said that since the hauler can accommodate more than 20 dogs at once, they often contact other greyhound rescues along their transport route to see if they can pick up any hounds for them along the way.

American Greyhound participates in several regional fundraisers throughout the year such as the annual Polar Plunge, which is coming up this New Year’s Day, and the Chicago Marathon. They can also often be found in local pet stores where they show off some of their adoptable hounds and receive donations from patrons.

As with all rescue groups, funds and foster homes are a crucial part of American Greyhound being able to save lives. And with the popularity of greyhound racing gradually declining, there is bound to be more and more unwanted greyhounds in need of rescuing as time goes on.

“I know how happy I was that someone else was there to save my greyhound Sophie, because otherwise I don’t know where she would be,” Graves said.

“I’m just happy to be able to give someone else the chance to experience the unconditional love that a greyhound can give.”

For more information on American Greyhound and how you can help save lives, visit www.americangreyhound.org or call 219-771-0892. The group can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanGreyhound. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 598, Hobart, IN 46342.

 

 

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