By LOIS KINDLE
Barring any last-minute appeal to an amendment passed in November 2018 by almost 70 percent of voters, all greyhound racing in Florida will cease at the end of the year. While many of the state’s tracks have already closed, the dogs currently competing at those still open will need permanent homes.
Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization founded in 2004 for the purpose of finding pet homes for greyhounds failing to qualify for racing or no longer able to race, will be helping to find homes for these last greyhounds. To date, the group has found good homes for more than 1,700 retired racers.
“If you’ve been thinking about adopting a greyhound or fostering one, you should probably put an application in now,” said Linda Lyman, BAGA president. “When these dogs are released no later than the end of this year, there will be a shortage of foster homes to temporarily care for them until they are adopted.”
Most of the 35 to 40 members of Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions own their own greyhounds and foster others. Additionally, there are currently 20 foster homes helping out.
Normally, they attend community events, visit pet stores and host meet-and-greets to build awareness of BAGA and the breed and to introduce some of the dogs that are currently available for adoption.
“Due to the coronavirus, we’ve not been able to do this and won’t for the foreseeable future,” Lyman said. “We show the dogs on Pet Finder, and if anyone’s interested, they can fill out an application. If approved, (a prospective adopter) can pay a $100 deposit and visit the greyhound at its foster home, where the dog must stay for a minimum of two weeks.”
According to Lyman, greyhounds are really good dogs. They are in good health, like people and are easy to care for. They usually get along well with other dogs, she said.
Ruskin resident Greg Suhre, a BAGA volunteer for the past three years, agrees.
He adopted his greyhound, Summer, from the group when she was 3 years old. The dog had raced more than 100 times, he said.
“When you adopt a greyhound, you get all their pedigree, racing and breeding history, even films of their races,” he said. “They’re screened before they go to a permanent home to learn which ones are okay with other dogs, small dogs, cats and children. You can be sure you’re getting a healthy dog, and they are great pets.
“They rarely bark, shed very little, are very calm and affectionate. They have a noble personality,” Suhre added. “It’s a myth they need to run, although they need to be walked 20 to 30 minutes every day. If you walked them for an hour, you’d probably need to carry them home.
“Actually, they sleep most of the day,” he said. “They’re the world’s fastest couch potatoes.”
Suhre said greyhounds are not recommended for families with infants and toddlers, since the dogs are easily startled, and their only defense mechanism is to run.
The adoption fee for females (weighing 60 to 65 pounds) is $350 and $300 for males (weighing 70 to 75).
“What people are paying for is the dog’s spaying or neutering, vaccination updates, microchip and teeth cleaning,” Lyman said.
Although racing these dogs has been demonized by animal rights groups, both Lyman and Suhre agree that except for a few bad apples weeded out by the industry many years ago, the vast majority of kennel owners treat their dogs very well.
“Most greyhounds enjoy running and are retired after two to four years of racing,” Suhre said. “Those that have no interest in racing, lose speed or are injured and can’t race anymore are also retired (and turned over to groups like Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions).
“They live in large kennels with carpet or shredded paper and are fed raw meat, kibble, veggies, pasta, fish and supplements,” he continued. “They are groomed and kept clean, get their shots and have their teeth cleaned. The kennels even have whirlpools to relax their muscles.
“And they are turned out four to five times a day by gender to do their business,” he said.
BAGA’s finances are down right now, Lyman said, due to the lack of public appearances and fundraisers. To make a tax-deductible donation to help this 501 (c) 3 nonprofit group, visit www.bayareagreyhounds.org and click “donate” or mail a check to Bay Area Greyhounds, 13014 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33618.
For more information, call 813-271-2332.