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Published: Wednesday, 1/13/2010

Local agency is on track to find homes for greyhounds

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Carla, whose racing name is Slow Down Sister, was one of hundreds of greyhounds without a home when Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, Wis., closed. She is available for adoption. All you need, said Sandy Augugliaro of North Coast Greyhound Connection, is a fenced-in yard and lots of love to give. Headquartered in Port Clinton, North Coast has taken in 20 greyhounds so far. Carla, whose racing name is Slow Down Sister, was one of hundreds of greyhounds without a home when Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, Wis., closed. She is available for adoption. All you need, said Sandy Augugliaro of North Coast Greyhound Connection, is a fenced-in yard and lots of love to give. Headquartered in Port Clinton, North Coast has taken in 20 greyhounds so far.
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For Sue Williams, greyhounds are like potato chips - "You can't have just one."

And because race tracks around the country are closing down for the season - and some for good - the dogs known for their sleek bodies, fast legs, and propensity to run are readily available.

Recently, a Wisconsin-based race track shuttered its starting gates permanently, leaving hundreds of greyhounds without a race to run or a home to love. Members of the North Coast Greyhound Connection, headquartered in Port Clinton, have taken in more than 20 dogs, nine of them coming into town during the weekend.

The former racers are now up for adoption.

"People have the misconception that they are high energy; they're not," Sandy Augugliaro, president and greyhound coordinator for the group, said. "I just could not believe this dog, the disposition. Now I have four."

The dogs are from the former Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, Wis., which hosted its last race Dec. 31. Ms. Augugliaro said when a track closes, the dogs usually go to a "lower-end" track where the dogs are generally slower. But as more tracks shut down, the former racers have fewer options to stay in the game.

That's where organizations like Mrs. Augugliaro's come in.

The former Dairyland dogs were transported into Ohio, washed and "vetted," and will be placed into foster care. Then, prospective owners willing to undergo the application process and home visit may have a new family member.

But make no mistake, these dogs are fast.

"They have been trained to run so if a door is opened, they are ready to go out it," Ms. Augugliaro said. "If they get out, they start to run, but they can't find their way home because they can't hunt by scent, it's by sight.

"That's the downside to a greyhound, the fear of them getting away," she said.

Mrs. Williams of Perrysburg volunteers with another organization, Greyhound Pets of America, based in Defiance. The owner of two greyhounds and two whippets, Mrs. Williams said people quickly learn how easy the dogs are to own and find themselves bringing in more and more.

"They're just so easy to take care of," she said. "They don't have a lot of dander, they don't usually produce a lot of allergens. They're just very, very lovable dogs."

Plenty of race tracks throughout the country still breed greyhounds. Several of the dogs that go to local rescue groups are sent from Florida, West Virginia, and race tracks on the East Coast.

And with each shipment, organizations hope to find families willing to adopt.

But these aren't going to be watchdogs, Mrs. Augugliaro cautioned, and they need a fenced-in yard - no invisible fences - and plenty of walks on a leash.

But a greyhound will give you little trouble and a lot of smiles, Mrs. Augugliaro promised.

Kay Bonafice of Findlay learned that quickly. She has three greyhounds and a basset hound.

And each of the canines gets along with the cat, she said.

A volunteer and supporter of North Coast, Mrs. Bonafice said she isn't a dog-racing fan. But without a doubt, she's a fan of the greyhounds themselves,

"They are so easy going and so very little trouble. They just want to lie around," she said.

For more information or to view dogs that are available for adoption, go online to northcoastgreyhoundconnection.org or to gpaoh.com.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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