THE HEAT FUND p. 1
WORK WEEKEND p. 1
1997 REUNION p. 1
HARD-LEARNED HARDWARE LESSONS p. 1
HOMELESS HOMER SYMBOLS p. 2
GREYHOUND UPDATES p. 2
AN AUGUST MIRACLE p. 2
N.G.A. INFO p. 4
SANTA PHOTOS p. 4
ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES p. 4
BRITTANY AND HER PUPS p. 5
BONE CANCER - CYCLONEÕS JOURNEY p. 5
THE ADOPTION MOVEMENT p. 7
Many, many thanks to all of you who responded to our emergency situation at the kennel, when our primary heat source was on its last legs. The day we sent the letter out, the heater did indeed give out. With your donations, we were able to purchase and install a new one. The new system is wonderful and keeping all the dogs very warm and cozy!! We were amazed at the truly overwhelming response we received!! It is gratifying to know there are kind, caring and generous people who always come through for the greyhounds in their time of need. G.A.S. truly appreciates your thoughtfulness and generosity. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, ALL.
Now if you just read the previous article, you are probably asking, "What happened to the excess money?" Good question!!!!! We have purchased supplies to make the desperately needed repairs at the kennel. Now we are asking for your help once again, (does it ever end?)
We have organized a work weekend for APRIL 5th & 6th, 1997. The two major projects that need to be addressed immediately are installing chain-link fencing in the indoor pens and erecting a new perimeter fence. We have the supplies, but we do not have the manpower to accomplish this huge endeavor. We plan on starting at 10:00 a.m. and working until late afternoon. Mark your calendar for April 5th and 6th, 1997, for the work weekend. We need all the support we can muster.
If you can spare a couple of hours or more, please give Marilyn or Carla a call.
The 3rd Annual Greyhound Reunion has been scheduled for Sunday, May 18, 1997, from 11am to 4pm. It will be held at the Middlesex County 4-H Fairgrounds in Westford, MA. I need volunteers to do some legwork before the big day and also for the day of the Reunion. Volunteers are crucial for this event. Please give me a call @ 508-667-2789 or E-Mail me at Albmaj@aol.com if you are able to help in any way, shape or manner. Further details will be arriving in the mail soon!!!!
ThereÕs no need for a snooze alarm at my house. If IÕm not up within a few minutes of the first buzz, like clockwork, greyhounds Dutch (Dutch Denison) and Puma (Go Run Playboy) station themselves on the other side of the bedroom door, whining and tap-dancing. So, I was immediately alarmed the winter morning I opened the door upon Puma in a solo performance! Calling for Dutch, I heard a whimper from the unheated lower level. The "S" hook from one of his tags had snagged on a fine but obviously very strong thread on the old bedspread used to cover one of the couches on which the dogs sleep. In an attempt to get away from it, he had dragged it downstairs, where it caught on a door hinge so that whenever Dutch attempted to come back upstairs, his "humane choker" (as sighthound collars are also called) strangled him.
That same day I removed all the "S" hooks and threaded each dogÕs tags onto the type of "O" ring used for keychains. These are far safer, and neater looking in the bargain. If you order ID tags from the flyer available at the G.A.S. kennel and are also in the adopter folder, (which allots a portion of the proceeds to G.A.S.), they will come with a smaller version of the same type of ring. More importantly, I now put the tags on one of the side rings of the collar, not the ring to which the leash is attached. This way, if the tags do somehow tangle on something, the collar wonÕt tighten as the dog pulls.
Now, if your dog has a wardrobe of collars, moving that key ring can be a pain. In the jewelry findings of most craft and fabric stores, you will find a selection of small fasteners to solve this problem. I like the "lanyard clip" style. They cost a few cents apiece. Another choice is a binder ring from office supply stores. These are larger in diameter, but appear to be secure enough to be used to hold the tags directly, so the key ring is unnecessary. And, in the clothesline/chain aisle of larger hardware stores, you will find the "Quik-Link," which has a built-in thread nut to open and close the side of the link. This works well, but it is necessary to check every day or so to make sure the nut isnÕt loosening.
The same aisle offers a handy helper for folks with more than one dog. It can be tricky to get two or more eager dogs out of the car without losing hold of a leash. But a "snap-link", two inches long or larger, will hook the hand-loops together. One dog canÕt bolt if heÕs attached to another, and youÕll have time to unweave legs from leashes. Sound like the voice of experience? Yep -- they both flew out the station wagon hatch when the knot I had tied in their leashes came undone. Fortunately I caught them easily and they were unharmed. But now, a few dollars later, their collars and leashes are a lot safer. If only the hardware store had a gadget to keep the cat food safe from the greyhounds . . .
Many thanks to everyone who has sent in their Homeless Homer Symbols. We can now use symbols from 9-lives plus cat food too. If you have cats or someone you know has cats save the 1 pt Morris the cat or UPC bar code symbols for us. Each symbol is worth cash for the greyhounds.
DonÕt forget Homeless homer Symbols are on Cycle, Ken-L-Ration and Reward dog food and treats. Every symbol counts!! If you need more information, please call P J at 603-474-8930.
During the past year, I have mailed out over 100 greyhound updates and have received less than 30 replies. When you adopted your greyhound, you agreed, on the application to answer a questionnaire inquiring about your greyhound. Updates are photocopied and put in our photo albums to take to demos. Updates are one way we keep in touch with you and it is important to us to know how your greyhound is doing. We try our best to answer any questions you may have. PLEASE take a couple of minutes to fill out the update mailed to you. If you donÕt have an update, call me at 603-474-8930 and I will be glad to mail you one.
I need to write this story now while itÕs still fresh in my mind. You often hear of miraculous events and must acknowledge them as such regardless of your spiritual make up. This is one such event.
Upon returning home from a weekend away, I noticed the light was blinking on my answering machine. Certainly not an unusual thing. The message was from someone with whom I had placed a Greyhound about six months ago. The dog had gotten away from the person who was leading her to an outside run. The dog was being lead by the collar, no leash! By the time I received the message, the dog had been gone for four days.
She had been spotted several times by police and others. No one had been able to coax her to come to them. Flyers had been posted all over town; the police, animal shelters and local vets had been notified of the lost Greyhound. I notified other members of our adoption group and arrangements were made to deliver a "squawker" to the worried owner. Everything was being done to find this dog, who by now was totally disoriented, scared to death, and every prey drive and survival instinct was kicking in. Judging by the various places she was being spotted, the dog had the ability to dodge heavy traffic on an extremely busy highway, not to mention the side streets around town. Every time someone called with a location on the Greyhound, the owner and many others were off once more to entice the frightened dog to come to them. A particularly frustrating moment occurred when the owner was about twenty feet from the dog, dangling the leash, saying... "come on girl, here girl, want to go for a walk, good girl"...all in a quiet reassuring voice. The dog bolted like she had been shot out of a cannon. Same thing happened when the squawker was used. It doesnÕt work on all of them! One sighting turned into an overnight vigil for the owner and some friend, to no avail. Eventually the dog was tracked through the woods, her nesting area found, and the humane society began placing food in a large animal crate with a trap door that shuts when the food is removed. Not that easy with a Greyhound as smart as this girl was. She found a way to pull the food through the cage and never set off the trap door. Finally a way was devised to make the food more difficult to remove and the greyhound was, at last, caught! It had been almost three weeks!
For almost three weeks this little dog who is only about 50 pounds, was out in the world fending for herself. Any number of things could have happened to her. More often than not, itÕs an automobile that catches up with the Greyhound, not the humane society. She could have been hurt running through the woods, and bled to death somewhere. There could have been an attack by three or four dogs roaming around loose. Someone could have managed to get their hands on her and decided to take her for themselves. Maybe these people were just passing through the area and live in another state. These dogs will run and run and end in another state under their own power. It is amazing that this Greyhound was found alive. She had obviously lost some weight from her weeks of scrounging for food, was very dirty, loaded with ticks and skittish to say the least. On the up side, she was not dehydrated. I suppose the tremendous amount of rain weÕve had lately gave her enough fresh water puddles to drink from. She had no lacerations and was in good condition. A miracle!
Now for the cause of this unfortunate event. Human error. Human carelessness. Humans not listening to those of us who preach endlessly. I have seen the looks from people who thought I was just embellishing a bit too much. I have heard the sigh on the other end of the telephone as I explained how important it is to be careful with doors/gates being left ajar by young children, collars so loose they look like a necklace, and not using a leash to walk the dog twenty feet from the house to the run!!! IT DIDNÕT HAVE TO HAPPEN. A price was paid by the dog, who is still recovering from the trauma of not knowing which end was up for the last two and a half weeks. The owner has been through endless nights of worry and running out to a sighting here and there. No one knew if the dog would ever be safe in a home again. Not a day went by that I didnÕt wonder about this little greyhound that I remembered as a sweetheart. As a final note ... the dog was voluntarily returned to our adoption group by the owner. Although this owner cared a great deal for the dog and never personally took any risk with the Greyhound, she felt that many of the people around her didnÕt show the same concern for the security of the dog. She tried to tell them and they didnÕt listen. I commend this person for what was a very difficult decision on her part. It was clear to me that she loved the Greyhound very much. Tears were flowing all around as my husband and I took custody of this little grey and drove away. A sad day indeed.
For those of you who are adoption group volunteers, donÕt let up!!! I was once told I was "a pain in the -- you know what" for going over and over the doÕs and donÕts. Well, I plan to continue that tradition and will probably become worse - or better - depending on your perspective. For those of you who are adopting a Greyhound for the first time or the fifth time and think it can never happen to you - think again. It can happen to any of us who are careless about the security of greyhounds. These dogs are wonderful pets and loving companions, but if they get out on their own for days and days...you, the wonderful human who feeds and cares for this dog will no longer be the center of their world. DonÕt put yourself in a potential situation of having your greyhound look you straight in the eye from a few feet away and turn their back on you and run!!! Please listen to the people who pass on their words of wisdom. Most importantly, educate those around you. Do not allow ANYONE to take chances with your Greyhound.
Have you ever wondered who your greyhoundÕs parents are or when they were born? You can now find out! The National Greyhound Association can assist you with your questions. You can call the NGA at 1-913-263-4660 and ask for individual registrations. The info you need to give them is the dogÕs racing name and ear tattoo numbers. They will be able to give you the sire and damÕs names and whelp date. All greyhounds are tattooed at 2 - 3 months old, but occasionally are not actually registered with the NGA. Unfortunately, if they were never registered, you will not be able to obtain this information. If they are registered, you can ask them to send you the order form for a pet certificate. The fee is twenty dollars.
Once you have the sire, dam and whelp date you can also order a five generation pedigree, send a $15.00 check to NGA Pedigree Service, BOX 543, Abilene, KS 67410. Be sure to include all the pertinent info in your letter. Do not ask the NGA for your dogÕs racing record - they do not have the records. You can call the track (if known) and try to obtain racing records from them.
On December 7 & 14 1996, G.A.S., was invited to take "Santa Photos" at Petco in Saugus. Polaroid kindly donated the film and The Costume Company in Arlington gave us a free dayÕs rental of a Santa Costume. IÕd like to thank Kim and Kyle Bowers and my husband Chip for giving us a hand. We raised $260 for G.A.S., and had a lot of fun playing Santa to a host of various dogs, hamsters and cats!
I canÕt believe that my beautiful, freckled greyhound is going to be 11 years old on April 9th. IÕve had Freckles for 9 years and she is the best pet IÕve ever had.
ItÕs been amazing to watch her grow from the flea and tick infested bag of bones who was afraid of people into the loving healthy friend she is today.
When I first brought her home, she was aggressive towards anything smaller than her. IÕm very honest about the fact that she killed a cat in her youth. It was my fault as I didnÕt realize how she would react to cats.
Now she plays with my newfound pet, Cat, the stray. It amazes me that a dog who was trained to chase small moving objects now just wants to play with them. It took almost 5 years for me to feel comfortable with her around smaller animals. Now she only chases squirrels.
She was insecure when I first brought her home. She would have to relieve herself every 6 hours, no matter how late she went out. She woke me up many nights at 3 a.m. If I didnÕt get up she would "go" on her bed or blankets. Washing blankets every day was no fun! The solution was so easy. I bought a crate and when I wasnÕt home - she was crated. She was rarely left in the crate for more than 6 hours. I was able to come home from work every 4 to 5 hours. This greatly improved housebreaking her. It took me close to 6 months to completely housebreak her. Now, she will wait forever before she goes in the house. She has gone up to 16 hours with no accident - due to circumstances beyond my control.
She loves to play with her "babies" (toys). She still shreds paper and cardboard boxes -- plastic bags all over the house -- the box shredded with no damage to the bags. The only thing she chews are clothespins.
After 9 years, she still follows me to the bathroom, (this must be a greyhound thing). She sleeps with me every night and keeps me company when IÕm sick. She has her own couch in front of the window so she can see the world outside. SheÕs an avid bird watcher.
SheÕs not quite as fast as she used to be. She sleeps a lot and goes to the vetÕs a bit more often. She has many medical problems and is on medication. With all of this, I still love her with all my heart.
Freckles is a very lucky hound. I made a commitment to her when she was adopted. A few initial problems, that had solutions, didnÕt stop me from keeping her. Some one else may have given her back. ItÕs amazing what a little patience and a bit of time can produce - a loving happy dog that completely trusts people. Considering that fact that many greyhounds never reach their 2nd birthday, at age 11, Freckles is truly one of the lucky ones!
For those of you who received our last newsletter, you know that on September 10, 1996, Brittany delivered her seven pups. It seems like a long, long time ago! At birth they only weighed about 12 ounces. ItÕs amazing to see a newborn pup that small and virtually helpless. Their survival instinct kicks right in and they find their way to their mother for nourishment. They sort of shuffle, roll and wobble along! It is amazing to see how quickly they develop. The eyes opened at fourteen days - a real gorgeous deep blue color. At this stage they are starting to crawl on wobbly legs. They started the weaning process at 3* weeks. It was hysterical watching 7 pups eating from the same bowl, with arms, legs and entire bodies in the bowl. The greyhound gracefulness is not evident in pups, by any stretch of the imagination.
Marilyn noticed one of the pups was not rapidly gaining weight like the others and was continually vomiting after eating. She took the pup to the vet to be examined. X-rays were taken and showed he had a condition called mega-esophagus, where the esophagus is too large and does not digest food properly and the dog slowly starves to death. The veterinarian explained the life span is under two years for this condition. A heart-wrenching decision was made to humanely put the poor pup down. Anyone involved in adoption does not like to make a decision such as this. It takes a lot of soul searching and second-guessing as to whether or not you are doing the right thing. But as we all know, unfortunately, life is not always perfect or easy.
On October 30th, the pups went to get their first set of shots. Their weights ranged from 6.7 to 9.2 pounds. It was comical in the examining room with the vet, the vet tech, Marilyn and I watching the six pups running around the office, chewing everyoneÕs shoelaces and generally creating havoc!
I still miss the little guys running around the kennel while we were cleaning and watching them play outside in a pen! I remember sitting in their pen with them and having all of them piling on top of each other trying to climb up to my head. It was so amazing watching them grow.
When BrittanyÕs milk was gone she was spayed and went to her new home several days later. Shortly after Brittany was in her new home she developed a case of mastitis. She was put on a course of antibiotics and warm compresses were put on the infected area several times a day. She is doing fine now!
All of the pups went to their new homes in November. All the pups are thriving. Marilyn has been in contact with all the adopters and is assured Brittany and the pups are all being spoiled as most of the greyhounds we know are! The adopters will be sending Marilyn pictures and some will be coming to the kennel to visit. In early February one of the pups was up to 30 pounds. It will be a treat to see the pups as they grow!
My family and I became aware of this life threatening disease when our oldest greyhound, of our 13 "adopted pets", Cyclone, was diagnosed with Osteoscarcoma, the most aggressive bone cancer. Cyclone is nine years old and had finished his racing career at the mandatory age of five at the St. Croix Greyhound Track in Hudson, WI. Wisconsin mandates adoption of all retired racers -- by state law -- and Cyclone came to us after he was returned by a person who decided she no longer wanted him.
If you could see CycloneÕs greyhound "smile" you would immediately be taken as his "smile" lights up the world. He is a wonderful and loving greyhound and certainly does not deserve this threat to his life. The fact that he has the disease started us on our journey to find out what we could to add to both his quality of and length of life.
This article is to offer hope to those faced with the same situation and provide practical knowledge for all. The information for this article was researched at the Uni. of MN Veterinary College of Medicine.
There are many types of bone (skeleton) cancer that effect dogs and large dogs in particular. Greyhounds are not effected more than other dogs. Osteosarcoma tends to strike large and giant breed dogs most. St. BernardÕs, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Great Danes and Golden Retrievers head the list. Research has found that gender and breed are not as significant as the breed's size.
Osteosarcoma is the most common and fastest growing bone cancer, effecting 85% of all malignancies originating in the skeleton. It is estimated that over 8,000 new cases strike each year, attacking middle aged to older dogs most often. Osteosarcoma is found in the limbs 75% of the time with the front legs having twice the incidence as the rear legs.
Osteosarcoma is not a good form of cancer (none are) and it is also the most aggressive. However, recent combined treatments are clearly improving the quality of life, to near normal, and extending stricken dogs longevity. That is the good news.
You need to act fast and be aware of "signs" and "symptoms" of this cancer. Due to its rapid growth and the fact is it hard to diagnose in the early stages, you become a vital player in helping to identify the symptoms.
Research has shown that dogs with Osteosarcoma in its early stages will often become lame and may produce swelling around the bone tumor. Often this occurs after some trauma and you would, of course, think your dog is lame, sore and possibly swollen due to the sprain or injury. This would certainly be true but the difference is an injury will heal and the lameness will gradually go away. Not so with Osteosarcoma, the lameness will get worse, as might the swelling. Your dog may stop placing weight on the leg. If you notice the lameness staying and getting worse - IT IS TIME TO SEEK EXPERT HELP!
Cyclone became lame after hitting his leg on a fence while running a little too fast with the pack of 13. We noticed he did not seem to improve. We thought he may have had an infection - so off to the vet, Dr. Dean Knudson, D.V.M., Hudson, WI. Dean has been CycloneÕs vet for the past five years and took a radiograph to be on the safe side. He did consider cancer a possibility but NOTHING WAS ON THE RADIOGRAPH. We learned that it is not uncommon for the early stages of Osteosarcoma not to show up on radiographs.
Cyclone did not improve, in fact, he stopped using his left rear leg all together and the pain was getting worse. Dr. Knudson suggested we take him to the Univ. of MN and have a radiograph taken there as their machine is much more powerful than his. Three weeks had past by this time and there it was - Osteosarcoma - clearly showing on the new radiograph.
Dr. Allen Lipowitz, our Univ. of MN Orthopedic Surgeon and Full Professor, broke the bad news to us. Cyclone had Osteosarcoma. He explained the option that we had - and we were glad to learn we had options.
Dr. Lipowitz told us that the radiograph did not show any signs of the cancer spreading to the lungs (metastasis in the lungs) - a piece of great news! If the lungs had metastasized the only option we would have would be to keep Cyclone comfortable for the short time he would have left. If the lungs have metastases you are most likely out of options. (See the last paragraph for hope.)
CycloneÕs misfortune had some good news, we could improve his quality of life back to near normal and extend his days with us.
1) Amputate his infected leg - ONLY. The benefit: The source of pain would be removed - and he had already learned to move on 3 legs. Non-benefit: This would not extend his life. Cost: Approximately $550.00.
2) Amputate his infected leg and add a Chemotherapy of Cisplatin. The benefit: Amputation with 3 chemotherapy treatments with Cisplatin, 21 days apart, would remove the pain and increase his quality of life and extend his days. Non-benefit: none. Cost: Amputation approximately $550.00 and chemotherapy approximately $1200.00 (for 3 treatments).
Note: Dr. Lipowitz conferred with Drs. Merkel and Noble, Oncologists, and they explained the only procedure that has produced good results is the combination amputation and 3 Cisplatin chemotherapy treatments. Noting the results with one or two treatments did not add to life expectancy - it did with the third treatment.
We followed the advice of Drs. Lipowitz, Merkel and Noble having CycloneÕs left rear leg removed and followed with three chemotherapy sessions at 21 day intervals. The results are so far fantastic - Cyclone is his ole self - and moves with his 12 "adopted" greyhound brothers and sisters and frankly, is at the front of the pack as often as not - with only three legs. Most heartwarming is to see that "greyhound smile" of CycloneÕs light up the skies and our world as he began to smile again after the first treatment. His way of saying thanks for making the decision to help him (at least that is how we see it). His appetite returned within a day of the first treatment and he was given medicine to prevent his getting sick with each treatment and it worked!
Simply, Osteosarcoma (skeleton bone cancer) will most likely cause lameness and soreness in one of your dog's legs and it will not improve. Your greyhound may stop placing weight on the leg and the appetite may decrease.
When you notice this call your vet. Find a place that can take a high quality radiograph, as most vets do not have equipment of that caliber. Be prepared to follow up as Osteosarcoma may not show up on the radiograph in its early stages.
If you would like more information you and/or your vet could contact Drs. Lipowitz, Merkel and Nobel at the Univ. of MN. You can call the Oncology Department at 612-625-7229, the phone will be answered by Maria Crowley, the Vet Technician for the Oncology Department.
The University of Minnesota is conducting experimental treatments for lungs that have metastasized and have had very good results. This is still new and Maria Crowley at the number above can give you more information.
Joan Dillon is a freelance writer and member of the Dog Writers Association of America who resides in Randolph, MA. A Greyhound owner since 1979, she became involved in the adoption movement in 1982 and currently serves on the board of The Greyhound Project, Inc.
Prior to 1982 it was highly unusual to see a Greyhound anywhere other than the side of a bus or at a racetrack and any racing Greyhounds kept as pets were usually the favorites of owners, breeders or trainers and seldom seen in public. Although there were some AKC Greyhounds, the breed was never particularly popular. Even in 1995, a year which saw an estimated 16,000 retired racing Greyhounds placed as pets, only 147 Greyhounds were registered with the AKC, causing them to be ranked 125th out of 140 recognized breeds.
Bred mainly for the show ring, AKC Greyhounds tend to be larger, heavier, and less muscular, with longer backs than their racing counterparts, in whom speed and a lack of aggression toward other Greyhounds are more important than appearance. Breed flaws like stand up ears neither affect a GreyhoundÕs running ability nor its ability to become a pet. Owners and breeders of AKC Greyhounds, however, have viewed the rising popularity of Greyhounds as pets with some apprehension.
Since Greyhounds have occasionally been transferred from the NGA to the AKC, they are concerned that an influx of NGA Greyhounds would have a negative impact on AKC Greyhounds. To help allay these concerns, NGA owners should not permit anyone to transfer a Greyhound to the AKC unless it is an outstanding physical representative of the breed able to hold its own in a show ring.
The Greyhound adoption movement is usually considered to have begun in 1982 when Ron Walsek of St. Petersburg, FL., founded REGAP (Retired Greyhounds As Pets), an all volunteer non-profit organization, to educate the public as to the true nature of the Greyhound and find homes for Greyhounds that retired from, or failed to qualify for, the racetrack.
Yet, years before Americans began to accept the notion that retired racing Greyhounds could make a career switch from athlete to couch potato, Greyhound adoption was already a fait accompli in Great Britain!
In 1974 the NGRC Retired Greyhound Trust was formed as a registered charity with its head office located in London at the offices of the National Greyhound Racing Club. In addition to providing administrative and secretarial staff, the Trust acknowledges donations, handles general inquiries and correspondence, and places ads in pet magazines and on television. It also provides funds, obtained from a percentage of the first time registration fee for a Greyhound, as well as legacies, charity race meetings, etc., for kenneling Greyhounds pending home placement.
The Trust relies on regional groups of volunteers, many of them owners of racing Greyhounds, to do the actual "homefinding" and organizing of advertising campaigns and media coverage to locate suitable homes. These regional representatives meet several times a year at the office of the Trust with representatives of racetrack management and veterinarians.
Even prior to the establishment of the Trust, however, the British Union for the Abolishment of Vivisection had a sanctuary for retired racing dogs run by Ann Shannon who started homing Greyhounds in 1956, and later developed a network of contacts across the country. With the formation of the Trust, this responsibility passed to the NGRC.
British teacher Johanna Beumer, a Trust homefinder at the Walthamstow track in London, began homing Greyhounds in 1965. Another Trust homefinder was Gee Lebon, a prolific writer with a regular column in Turnout magazine and articles in Dog World, who corresponded regularly with many early American adoption pioneers sharing ideas for fund raising and her knowledge of Greyhounds as pets.
During the 1980Õs, the American Greyhound racing industry was booming. NGA membership climbed and more and more Greyhounds were being bred to meet the anticipated demand of new states and new tracks.
Racing Greyhounds, however were always pictured muzzled and placing them as pets was not only uncommon, it was news! Newspapers and magazines published a plethora of articles on the subject and TV interviews with adoption representatives and adopters slowly began to change the public perception of Greyhounds. Tracks started permitting adoption groups to distribute information and hold on-track pet exhibits enabling the public to actually meet a Greyhound.
A donation check was often presented to the group resulting in positive publicity for the track in the local newspaper. Articles related what to expect when adopting a Greyhound and how to go about it. Some also provided historical information about the bred and general racing information. Adoption success stories were popular. Yet, even though thousands of Greyhounds were routinely put down, articles were generally positive with regard to the Greyhound and to the Greyhound industry.
By the end of 1986, in addition to Ron WalsekÕs original REGAP in Florida, REGAP clones existed in a number of other states. On April 4, 1987, representatives from REGAP groups in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and California met in Oxford, Massachusetts to form Greyhound Pets of America -- a national organization with one board member per chapter and with democratically elected officers and policies.
By the end of 1987, all known adoption groups with the exception of Ron WalsekÕs original REGAP in Florida, REGAP of Arizona, and Greyhound Rescue Society and Greyhound Friends in Massachusetts, had joined GPA. REGAP of Connecticut, originally interested in being part of the new organization, later decided to remain separate. Most notable about the mid to late eighties, however, was the fact that Greyhounds as pets were no longer considered oddities.
Up to this time, the majority of people placing Greyhounds had either been connected in some way with the Greyhound industry or had direct contact with people who did. They recognized that the Greyhound industry was made up of more good guys than bad and that far more could be accomplished to help Greyhounds with industry support and assistance. As more and more people became active in promoting and placing retired Greyhounds, the adoption movement spread from racing states to non-racing ones and Greyhound adoption groups soon covered virtually every part of the country expect Hawaii, and had crossed the border into Canada as well.
While organizations in racing states still had first contact with people in the Greyhound industry and tended to take a neutral stance toward Greyhound racing, some of the newcomers, particularly those in non-racing states, did not.
Influenced by anti-racing animal rights advocates, they began to attack the racing industry in the media and although incidents of Greyhound abuse have always been in the minority, any that did occur (even if years before), were sensationalized and expounded upon.
The HSUS, whose president in 1983 stated, "Once the training of live animals was eliminated and we felt that everything possible was being done to assure that the Greyhounds were being humanely disposed of both prior to and after they had lived out their usefulness, Greyhound racing would effectively no longer be targeted for any major actions or endeavors by an animal welfare organization," has since become extremely vocal against Greyhound racing.
Given a choice, most adoption groups would prefer positive articles to negative ones. Negative press brings potential adopters out of the woodwork all wanting to "save" a Greyhound but, since this is a spur of the moment decision, they seldom have the commitment needed to make an adoption work and are all too ready to return the dog if they encounter adjustment problems.
Some people in the Greyhound industry, particularly at racetracks, continue to leave themselves open to negative publicity by not keeping better controls on those who handle the Greyhounds. When Greyhounds trucked to an adoption group arrive loaded with ticks and covered with fleas, people assume that this is the norm at all tracks and that all Greyhounds are in this sad condition. In addition, anyone affiliated with an adoption group who has spent hours de-ticking Greyhounds, or any adopter or foster home dealing with a flea infestation caused by the arrival of a Greyhound, is not going to look kindly on the Greyhound industry and is likely to believe all rumors of Greyhound abuse. In some ways, negative media attention may actually have benefited the Greyhounds by influencing some in the Greyhound industry to change their attitude toward Greyhound welfare from lip service to active support. The late eighties and nineties have seen a steady increase in the number of Greyhound holding and/or adoption kennels at many tracks, as well as the formation of the American Greyhound Council, the giving of grants to Greyhound adoption groups, the establishment of the Greyhound adoption fund administered by the ASPCA and, most recently, during the current period of Greyhound industry downsizing, the providing of direct physical and financial assistance to facilitate the transporting of Greyhounds from closed tracks to adoption groups across the country.
The Greyhound adoption movement is a success. The good news is that, with fewer Greyhounds now being bred and with over 200 adoption groups across the country, more Greyhounds are now being placed as pets than put down. The bad news is that, despite all the Greyhound industry has done and continues to do to help the Greyhounds, it seems to attract more and more adverse publicity. Somehow, this just doesnÕt seem fair.