By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Hopkinton – For 30 years, Greyhound Friends has been finding homes for dogs which are no longer needed in the greyhound racing industry. And the Hopkinton organization is expanding its reach to help dogs from Ireland as well as the United States.
“We place about 300 greyhounds a year, plus other types of hounds as well,” said Louise Coleman, director and founder of Greyhound Friends, who adopted her first greyhound from a trainer at the Wonderland dog track in 1983.
Most of those greyhounds come from Florida, where there are 13 greyhound racing tracks, with dogs arriving in Hopkinton every week. There is no longer any dog racing in the New England states.
“There are at least 2,000 dogs at each track since most dogs only race twice a week, plus others at breeding farms,” Coleman said. Most of the racing dogs” careers are over by the time they are two or three years old, and the breeders also have a supply of dogs which did not qualify to race at all. There is a constant stream of animals needing homes, and Greyhound Friends is part of a network of adoption groups.
Coleman has also become involved with greyhound adoptions from Ireland, where dog racing is popular, and is now receiving Irish greyhounds to place as well.
“The racing industry in Ireland wants to sell their extraneous dogs to China, one of the least animal-friendly countries,” she said. “While there is oversight of the racing industry in the U.S., there is no international greyhound protection organization. Many of the international animal rights groups are not focused on the greyhound problem, though AnimalsAsia.com is working to ban the sale of dog meat.”
Most of the greyhounds Coleman places are two to three years old, and she noted they are easy dogs to train because “they are used to doing what people ask them to do.”
Greyhound Friends is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the dogs available for adoption, both greyhounds and other hounds, are shown on the group's website, www.greyhound.org. Coleman suggests coming earlier in the day to adopt a dog so there is time to meet the dogs and to process an application. The $250 donation to adopt covers all the necessary vaccinations, veterinarian checkup and spaying or neutering.
Greyhound Friends helps match a dog's personality to an adoptive home. Most greyhounds do well with children, Coleman said, and are even suitable for apartment living as long as there is somewhere nearby where they can run around.
“We follow up on our adoptions, and have reunions here,” she said. “If, for any reason, owners find they cannot keep the dog, we ask them to bring it back.”
Greyhound Friends frequently holds information sessions around the Metrowest area, and a schedule of those events is on the website.
The organization welcomes both donations and volunteers. Greyhound-related items and accessories are available at a small store at the kennel and online.