Former racing greyhounds are coming to the Midwest in larger numbers, and a lot sooner than planned.
Many of the dog race tracks are shutting down around the country, including Florida, which has a Dec. 31 deadline to close. But because of the Coronavirus, the tracks are closing earlier, which leaves a lot of dogs needing homes now.
In Indiana, Prison Greyhounds is stepping up to help get these animals transported to Midwest fosters and adopters. The organization, which takes retired racers and matches them with selected Indiana prison offenders to transition them as house pets, has launched a fundraising campaign called A Ticket Home. Right now, transportation is the biggest obstacle in getting the greyhounds moved out of Florida.
"We have a three-month campaign goal of $30,000 to transport, house and vet the greyhounds," says Mary Louden, president of Prison Greyhounds, which is headquartered in Indianapolis. "A Ticket Home just got a $10,000 donation from the Tony Stewart Foundation, which has helped greatly toward our goal. We are at $24,000! We are committed to assisting more than 200 greyhounds from Florida to different adoption groups in the Midwest through the end of the year. We're anticipating that most dogs will have to leave Florida before the end of summer."
Prison Greyhounds brought in 30 dogs for their own adoptions the weekend of April 11. On April 25, Greyhound Alliance sent 29 more greyhounds to Michigan and Wisconsin adoption groups, with more planned in the near future as funds and adopters are found.
"We had to temporarily close down the prison program because volunteers can’t go inside the prison, and we can’t have a program without volunteers to coach the inmate-handlers and to check on the dogs. It could be a couple of months before the prison program can start back up," says Louden.
Prison Greyhounds has collaborated with The Greyhound Alliance Sunburst Project based in Chicago, with a kennel in Florida. Greyhound Alliance has been shipping greyhounds since 2011. A Ticket Home is a joint effort, but donations from the public are needed.
Check out the graphic at the top of this story to find out how to donate to A Ticket Home.
Retired greyhounds dogs cannot go to shelters: Because of their special nature, and not having been in homes before, the dogs are being sent to specialized greyhound adoption groups.
"These dogs are friendly, outgoing, confident and non-aggressive, and they need specific groups that know how to approve an adoptive family and make sure adopters understand the breed. Most have never been in a home and can’t walk on slick floors or climb stairs, and have been on very regimented schedules. They need to learn house manners," says Louden.
"We encourage adopters to learn about the breed and get pre-approved to adopt before picking a specific dog," she says. "You can get pre-approved through our website where the process is explained." To find out more, click here: https://prisongreyhounds.org/adoption/
Prison Greyhounds is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization started by Louden and her husband in 2009. The prison program was started in 2012 and has adopted out over 500 greyhounds, with 217 graduating from Putnamville Correctional Facility to date.
Moving these animals out of Florida is "urgent and essential," says Louden. "Pet adoptions for all breeds are up now that people are home more and have time to help a dog transition into their homes."
For more info on greyhounds, visit https://www.ngagreyhounds.com/Home