If there's one thing greyhounds love to do, it is run, said Michele Scott, Fort Wayne representative of All-Star Greyhounds, a Lafayette-based nonprofit that provides adoption services for retired canine sprinters.
And run they do — for the first two to five years of their lives — on racetracks primarily in Florida and Arizona and in a few other states. When they no longer make money for their owners on the track they are retired and offered up for adoption, with the majority going through groups such as ASG, Scott said.
On Sunday, Green DogGoods is sponsoring a Meet and Greet fundraiser for ASG to introduce the greyhounds to the public. The event will be at Green DogGoods, 3421 N. Anthony Blvd. On Saturday, you can have a photo portrait of your pet taken to raise funds for the organization. “Flash Your Pet” begins at 1 p.m. at Green DogGoods; call 483-1267 to schedule a portrait.
Raffles, prizes, live music by the Distractions, refreshments and adoption applications for the Greyhounds will be available.
ASG usually gets “six to eight dogs at a time, and they're put into foster homes until we find them permanent homes, which is generally every two to three months,” said Scott, an owner of a retired red fawn racer and a black lurcher (greyhound mix).
“Greyhound racing's declining — when I first started in the mid-1990s, there were 40-plus tracks, and now there are only 22 tracks. Racing is seasonal — ends in October and picks up in February or March. Years ago, the public didn't know what happened to the dogs or how they were treated, which back then may have been inhumanely. Many were turned loose or killed. Education to the public has really helped change that a lot. Most of the tracks have adoption kennels right on site, but the majority of dogs are adopted through organizations such as ours.
“We pay for their spaying and neutering and have a whole line of vet work done, like shots, and we pay a nominal fee to help with their expenses. They bring the dogs from Florida in a trailer that looks like a big Airstream and has stalls in it. We pick out the dogs from the website descriptions and with help from the track adoption coordinator. Once they're on their way here, we're responsible for them.”
Those who have never seen a dog race might wonder how the dogs are encouraged to run. According to Scott, they chase an artificial lure around the track.
“Greyhounds are in the sight-hound family, which means they hunt by sight as opposed to scent,” Scott said, “and it is natural instinct that propels them to run. The track is a quarter-mile long, and each race, which lasts less than one minute, is comprised of eight dogs.”
Scott first got involved with saving retired greyhounds in 1995 after her first adoption, Greta. Asked why she rescues greyhounds as opposed to other breeds that may have been mistreated, neglected or abused, Scott acknowledged there were many needs “out there, and one person can only do so much. After adopting Greta, I was hooked and it grew from there.”
How is it that a lot of these retired racers end up in Indiana? Adoption/rescue groups are all over the country, Scott said, including several in this area due to relatively close proximity to the tracks in Wisconsin. Those tracks have closed, but groups still exist to help with greyhound rescue from other tracks/areas.
Scott, in her 21st-year of teaching with Northwest Allen County Schools, was previously a dog groomer for 15 years and an active competitor in dog shows, exhibiting miniature pinschers.
“Over the years of working in the pet industry, I saw the need for more education to the general public in regards to responsible pet ownership, spaying/neutering, etc.,” Scott said.
“While there are many wonderful dog owners out there, there are also many who regard animals as a way to make money and don't care for them in the manner the animals deserve. I was not grooming anymore but wanted to stay active with the dog world. I knew a little about the racing industry and had an acquaintance who had an excellent retired racer.”
“Greta was one of the best dogs I've ever been graced with. When we took her to awareness programs, if people didn't pet her, she would stick her head in their crotches. She had an uncanny quality of keeping our other dogs in control without growling or biting, and her eyes just melted your soul. Without a doubt, she loved unconditionally. She died in 2007 at 14 1/2 years old.”
Those considering adopting a greyhound can come to Green DogGoods on Sunday to see if there might be a greyhound in their future. And they might want to consider this, to paraphrase the late pet author Mordecai Siegal — “Acquiring a greyhound may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative.”