Rescuing Greyhounds From Misconceptions—Greyhound Pets of America
As a U.S. mail carrier, Kathy Jackson also carried treats for the dogs on her routes. One of her very special "friends" was a former racing greyhound. When Kathy retired, she knew exactly what type of dog she wanted. She adopted Manny, a newly retired racer who won her heart.
Kathy doesn't use the word "rescue" very often in her conversations about greyhound racing. Too many people have the misconception that the dogs are mistreated during their competitive phase, which is far from the reality. Nor are they euthanized when those racing days are over. Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) steps in to find responsible, loving homes for the retirees. People like Kathy and her husband.
GPA sponsors weekly Meet 'n' Greets at local pet stores, inviting greyhound owners to come with their dogs to talk with interested people about the desirability of retired greyhounds as pets. Many people have another misconception that such a big dog might not fit well into a family situation or even be OK in an apartment. But standing there, petting such a gentle giant and listening to enthusiastic owners, people gain a new perspective. Across the U.S. through the efforts of the organization's volunteers, more than 200,000 greyhounds have found their forever homes. In 2017 alone the Nashville Chapter placed 92.
In addition to the Meet 'n' Greets, volunteers help adoptive parents know and understand what "responsible" greyhound ownership is. For example, zoomies! The hounds are bred for speed, and unlike some other hound breeds their strength is sight—not scent. If the dog were off leash in an open area and something caught its attention, it would instinctively set off. Greyhounds are the second fastest land animal (behind cheetahs); they can reach 40 miles per hour in three strides! So intent, they don't respond to an owner's voice and they are unaware of such things as cars. When they do slow down, they may have no idea of how to find their way back since sight, not scent, is their guide. Instead, allowing the hound to zoom around a fenced yard for a few minutes or taking two 20-minute walks a day are responsible—and adequate. Those always lead to a good long nap or two or three. Greyhounds are easy keepers.
In addition to adoptive parents, GPA chapters need volunteers as foster parents, exposing the animals to experiences different from the ones they had as racers, for example, seeing a cat or a child for the first time, going up and down stairs, or walking on slippery wood floors rather than on a dirt track and concrete. Also, the chapters seek board members. As one, Kathy keeps the website current.
If you want to learn more about volunteering or about the greyhounds, visit the site, greyhoundpets.org.
Or check in your area for a Meet 'n' Greet at a local pet store. In Nashville you can find Kathy many Saturdays at PetSmart in 100 Oaks Mall. Manny will be there too.