Service Project PTO: Greyhound Transport
For a few years, I’ve been volunteering with a wonderful organization called “Heartland Greyhound Adoption” that works directly with some of the racing greyhound kennel owners to place retired racers into loving homes. The greyhounds are retired from racing for a variety of reasons, including just not being interested in racing (they only race dogs that absolutely love it, no dog is ever forced to race), having an injury, or getting too slow or old to race (they often don’t race past the age of 4). I’ve wanted to adopt a retired racing greyhound since I did a report on them in the 7th grade, and it was a dream come true when I brought home my first foster in 2018. Since “HGA” is a foster-based group, I help out by transporting dogs, doing home visits to help approve potential adopters, and have also fostered several greyhounds (and also adopted a “foster fail”).
I relish being the first step for some of them into their new retirement phase and I’ve helped transport over a dozen greyhounds. Sometimes I get to pick them up directly from the kennels at the race track (90 minutes away), or meet the owners half way in between and transfer them in a parking lot. While most of the transport requests are scheduled in advance, one of the recent requests was only hours before the dog was released due to an injury, and I was so grateful to be able pick the dog up as soon as possible instead of waiting until after my work day was over. One of the greatest things about working at Artitudes is being able to volunteer during work hours!
You may notice some of the pictures show them wearing muzzles, which is a common greyhound accessory. Often people see them wearing a muzzle and think they’re aggressive, but it’s more about protecting their exceptionally thin skin from playing and rough-housing. Any dogs shown without a muzzle were being transported alone, whenever I have more than one dog in the car they wear muzzles to make sure no one gets scratched!
This past weekend was the last day of racing in Iowa, and might have possibly been my last opportunity to transport. While picking them up from the track, I was looking over the paperwork for one of the dogs and realized he was a half-brother of my own adopted greyhound, Nova! One of the cool things about greyhounds is you can track their lineage, look up their racing career, and even watch some of their previous races online. It is bittersweet that greyhound racing is becoming a thing of the past and this beloved and unique breed of dogs will become even more rare. I feel very lucky that I was able to volunteer and experience racing greyhounds (very different than non-racers) before they become obsolete.
If you’re interested in adopting a greyhound, there are still organizations across the U.S. that transport dogs from the few remaining tracks, but I recommend starting the process soon as they often have long waiting lists!