Every Greyhound Gets A Silver Lining
Story by Claire Sheridan | Photo Courtesy of Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption
Since 2012, nonprofit Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption (SA GREYS) has found permanent homes for over 500 dogs. Based in Tucson, the all-volunteer organization has a passion for helping these gentle creatures and educating people about them. Often mislabeled as high-energy, Greyhounds are actually sprinters, not marathoners. After their relatively brief, if sometimes very fast, runs they are most content to have soft places to hunker down.
Dogs who need the organization’s help come from all over Arizona; some have even hailed from Kansas, New Mexico, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas. In addition to finding forever homes, one of the group’s major efforts is providing complex, often costly medical care to sick and injured Greyhounds.
The group has tasked itself with identifying caring and responsible homes, rescuing sick, injured and abandoned Greyhounds, returning lost Greyhounds to their owners, teaching the principles of kindness and humane dog care, promoting birth control by neutering/spaying all intake animals, providing pre-adoption health services and providing residential foster care to assist Greyhounds in becoming acclimated to a home environment.
SA GREYS has cared for 143 former racing Greyhounds; all have been rehabilitated from serious injury and/or illness. In their retirements, these dogs now enjoy life as couch potatoes in their forever homes. Getting them to that point requires the dedication of volunteers and veterinary staff. In the first five years, the group has spent nearly $900,000 in order to house and treat the animals under its care.
Money raised by SA GREYS for the treatment of the racing retirees goes into a fund they call Jackie’s Fund, in honor of their first dog who had costly veterinary expenses and a long recovery. Check out their website for stories of all the individual dogs that have benefitted from this fund. (www.sagreys.org/jackies-fund-gallery/)
Even though Tucson’s Greyhound racetrack has closed, Greyhounds continue to be relinquished to SA GREYS from other racing or breeding farms. Because Greyhounds have a unique blood type that makes them universal donors in the dog world (the equivalent of having type ‘O’ blood if you are human), there is no shortage of dogs that could require assistance from SA GREYS. The most recent group of SA GREYS’ dogs came from a blood bank in Texas that was shut down.
501(c)(3) status precludes the group from taking a political stance for or against Greyhound racing. This operational policy also helps SA GREYS to grow and maintain their relationships with those that surrender racing Greyhounds to their adoption group.
When they have a new intake of Greyhounds, volunteers come together for Spa Day, when dogs receive baths and are groomed. Every dog is thoroughly inspected for injury. After spa and playtime, the dogs are ready for their close-ups; photos are taken and volunteers establish a unique individual profile for each Greyhound. At the conclusion of Spa Day, all dogs are given their own new beds and stuffed toys.
Only after a Greyhound has been medically cleared, including completion of spay/neuter surgery, is he or she made available on the group’s website. Each week, a different hound is featured on Facebook and on their website. In Tucson, SA GREYS holds in-person meet-and-greets twice a week.
The January “Grey Winter Festival” fundraiser featured a fashion show with Greyhounds strutting their way down the red carpet. Ticket sales covered the cost of putting on the event, and a silent auction raised money. Former Arizona Legislator Bruce Wheeler, who sponsored the bill that put an end to Greyhound racing in Tucson, was in attendance. He had the opportunity to meet some of the dogs whose lives were changed by the bill he sponsored.
Rogue is one of the medical miracle dogs saved by SA GREYS; he was attacked by a group of Greyhounds at Tucson Greyhound Park. Rogue was severely injured and required hundreds of staples all over his body to repair the damage. Miraculously, he healed almost completely within six weeks. His adopter said, “…he has been one of the most rewarding and easy-going dogs I have ever owned. He loves to meet new people and dogs whenever he can… Rogue continues to blossom; the more time passes he acts like one of the pack and has grown into his own personality. He plays with toys and gets excited for walks. We love him more than I can put into words.”
In June, on the last day of racing, the curtain call at Tucson Greyhound Park, a dog named Fini (French for “final”) broke a leg— not in the theatrical sense! Dr. Nausley at the Briarcrest Veterinary Care Center opened the clinic on a Sunday to treat Fini. After his recovery, Fini was adopted by first-time Greyhound owners, Alisha, Scott, and son Jace.
This is what Fini’s new mom Alisha had to say about him:
Riley arrived in her forever home after being fostered for several months while she recovered from a hock broken in a race. Riley immediately enjoyed her new Greyhound sister but was very fearful of virtually everything else. She first thawed to the women of the house, but it took patience for her to warm to her new dad, Ron.
Her mom, Sherri, said, “Ron set out to earn her trust; sometimes sitting on the floor for hours, speaking to her in a soft gentle tone, and waiting for her to come to him. I will never forget the first evening when Ron was standing in the kitchen, and Riley walked over, leaned against him and turned her eyes up toward him. Since that day, she has been glued to his side like a Velcro strip, and out of the ashes of her unknown background of abuse, has blossomed a courageous flower. She is still delicate and timid but has grown so vividly before our eyes. Her courage seems to have evolved and revolved around one common theme ‘Time with Ron’. Shelby and I have always said that if Riley could have the ability to speak two human words she would choose the words, ‘Whereʼs Ron?’ Her frightened, darting eyes have turned to soft brown relaxed eyes. She is loving to all, but when given a choice, the first place she gravitates is to Ron for quiet time. The story of Riley and Ron is a success story that offers hope to every abused, neglected, and exploited dog.”
Riley and Ron were television stars this year, as they participated in the “Best In Couch Potato” category on Hallmark channel’s American Rescue Dog Show. It just goes to show how much progress an animal can make when loving humans care.
Thanks to the folks at SA GREYS for sharing these stories and photographs. Every animal deserves a forever home, and Tucson Dog is grateful for the part each of these awesome volunteers plays in helping Greyhounds find theirs.
For more information about the group, or how you can help and/or adopt a Greyhound, contact Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption at:
Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption
1517 N. Wilmot Road, Box 175
Tucson, AZ 85712