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Published: Friday, 1/5/2001

The Editors: Racing hounds past prime need homes, pair stress

Thousands of greyhounds that are past their prime as race dogs are left without homes, Nancy Schmidt, president of Team Greyhound Adoption of Ohio, said yesterday during a taping of The Editors television program.

Some return to breeding farms until they can be turned over to an adoption agency, such as the year-old, Swanton-based group that Ms. Schmidt heads.

“Unfortunately, there are dogs that are euthanized all the time,” she said.

Greyhound racing is especially popular in Florida, which has 17 tracks, although attendance has declined some with the growth of casino gambling, Ms. Schmidt said.

Ms. Schmidt and Neal Davis, a Team Greyhound volunteer, were questioned by Thomas Walton, vice president-editor of The Blade, and Marilou Johanek, a member of The Blade editorial board. Appearing too was Jodi, one of six greyhounds that Mr. Davis has adopted.

The Editors will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.

The nobility of greyhounds can be traced to antiquity.

“They were treated with a great deal of respect by many pharaohs. They loved to have them at their side,” Mr. Davis said.

Ms. Schmidt said: “There's something magical about this breed of dog.”

All of the racing greyhounds are registered with the National Greyhound Association, and the American Greyhound Council oversees the dogs' welfare, Ms. Schmidt said.

Still, there could be more regulation, she said. The association has only one full-time and 75 part-time inspectors to handle about 2,000 greyhound breeding farms, she said.

Ms. Schmidt said that she gets calls often from breeding farms asking whether she can take greyhounds in. Some dogs appear to have been cared for; others are infested with fleas and ticks.

Track owners too can contribute to a dog's injury by making the course too solid, causing the animal to break its right back hock.

But Team Greyhound leaves to others the issue of whether dogs ought to be racing.

“Basically our goal is just to get these dogs into homes,” she said. “There's good and bad in the industry.”

A good racer can be active until it is 5, Ms. Schmidt said; Jodi is 3 and has been with Mr. Davis for five months.

The group charges a $200 adoption fee, which includes spaying or neutering if needed, and a veterinary exam, a detailed application, and a meeting of greyhound and new family - including family pets - to make sure the former racer will fit in.

Acclimation to home life can be slow. Racers have always lived with other dogs and don't know about stairs, furniture, and windows.

But they're not overactive. Indeed, Mr. Davis said his greyhounds may begin a walk enthusiastically, but have to be coaxed along near the end.

“They don't really take up a lot of room,” said Ms. Schmidt, who has eight. “They curl up in their little balls and [lie] around.”

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