A greyhound can reach 45 mph in just six strides. The only land animal that tops this burst of speed is the cheetah. These deep chested, slender and swift dogs possess powerful legs and excellent eyesight. Coupled with their docile and oftentimes timid nature, they have the sweet demeanor of an exhausted athlete after winning a big race. Their coats can be white, black, brown, brindle, fawn or even blue-grey. They have pointed faces and eyes like polished stones. Their personalities lend them aptly for comparisons to introverted champions yet oftentimes this is exactly what they are.
Greyhound Pets Inc., located just back behind the Brightwater facility in Woodinville, is an unparalleled 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides individuals with the wonderful opportunity to give these retired racers, unfortunate pups and greyhounds of every variety the ability to enjoy the pleasant life they deserve. Founded in 1985 by John A. Hern Jr., Greyhound Pets Inc. has made it their utmost mission to dedicate themselves to the welfare of greyhounds and greyhound mixes. Since 1985, they have had more than 6,375 dogs at their kennel. They serve a large swath of the region throughout all the Pacific Northwest and up into Southwestern Canada. They work to find homes for greyhounds that need them.
At the end of 2018, Florida voters came out in high numbers to help minimize greyhound racing in the United States. By 2020, 11 of the country’s 17 remaining dog tracks will be closing. While the debate rages between those that believe racing is not bad for the dogs and those whom lobby to end many other pet businesses such as traditional pet stores and breeding operations, the fact remains that there are going to be thousands of dogs, suddenly, without a space to call home.
“We want to be there for the dog its whole life,” explained President of Greyhound Pets Inc. Moira Corrigan. She and her colleagues Martha Faulkner and Chris Nooney, who are all volunteers, led me through their beautiful facility. While the front of their operation mirrors an up-scale store, once you’re behind a few doors you’re able to see the innerworkings of what makes this operation so successful. A large, detailed chart shows every dog under their care: 41 in total in late February. The dogs’ charts show their sex, if they’re friendly with cats, and some of their other personality quirks that are helpful for volunteers that provide “turnout” services. The entire organization is ran by volunteers with only the kennel techs those who garner a paycheck because of their work. Each dog has their own spacious run with heated floors. Soothing music drifts through the complex to help relax and calm the greyhounds.
In 2018, the organization was able to adopt 209 dogs. “The majority of our dogs have come from Florida from the National Greyhound Association retired racers,” explained Faulkner who is the nonprofit’s Development Director. She continued, “We have also been working with dogs from Ireland, American Lurcher Project dogs from the Midwest [here in the] USA and South Korean dogs for a while now. We have just started receiving dogs from the UAE, Spain and Macau as the need has increased. We are monitoring how the new law in Florida impacts the NGA, the dogs’ availability and where the need for our help may arise elsewhere.”
I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful dog named Duke who had just arrived from Dubai. Duke’s leg was in desperate need of surgery which Greyhound Pets Inc. quickly handled. Duke, first a little nervous, came to my leg and nuzzled me affectionately while I gave him a treat. While the cost varies due to point of origin, these dogs run the organization anywhere from a few hundred to well over a thousand dollars per pooch. “We’ve always been thinking about where else we can help,” explained Corrigan. Now, there are greyhounds in need coming to Woodinville from Ireland, South Korea, and Spain, among other countries.
Greyhound Pets Inc. wants these dogs to find their perfect homes and they go to lengths to make sure the right animal is matched with the perfect people. Nooney, who is the organization’s VP, does regular house visits for prospective greyhound owners. “We educate people as much as we can,” said Nooney. These animals are gorgeous, intelligent and very loving but they are not just like any other dog. They have specific needs that must be accounted for so the life of the animal, and owner, are happy and fulfilling. Some of these dogs have had no concept of anything but a racetrack and a kennel when they first arrive at the Woodinville facility. Getting the dog comfortable to their new life is a special series of tasks. The process is thorough for the benefit of all those involved.
Because Greyhound Pets Inc. is completely volunteer ran, they are always very appreciative of donations. While cash donations always make operations easier, donating one’s time by becoming a volunteer can be tremendously meaningful for both the greyhounds and the individual. To make a donation, sponsor a particular dog, or to learn other ways to get involved, please visit:
Towards the end of my visit, I was lucky enough to witness a couple from Portland, OR, eager and giddy, going through the final motions to adopt their new greyhound. With a little encouragement, the dog, tail rounding in a happy counter-clockwise spin, hopped up into the car before the three—for the first time all together—headed home.