Atlantic Canadian greyhound rescue group sets its sights on other breeds
Border closures with the U.S. has Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada now seeking homes for Spanish breeds
A volunteer organization that has found homes for more than 7,000 greyhound dogs in the past 30 years is turning its attention to other breeds.
Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada had been importing the racing dogs from tracks in Florida and rehoming them. But since the tracks are now closed because of COVID-19, the group is shifting gears.
"So all the greyhounds have gone to the adoption centres in the U.S., and because the borders are closed, we can't get any greyhounds up here," said Rhonda Martins, a Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada volunteer.
Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada announced in early April that it was abandoning the greyhound adoption service.
Since the group no longer had access to the dogs, they had to either shut down operations entirely or refocus.
"[Greyhounds] are fantastic dogs and it is pretty sad. We've put a lot of time in and our group has some amazing volunteers. We do shifts at the kennel and we raise 100 per cent of our funds through donations and fundraising," Martins said. "As a group, it's really sad because our group will probably break apart."
Martins said while most of the volunteers who work at the group's kennel in Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., will likely move on, she intends to devote her energies to Spanish galgos and podencos.
"They breed hundreds of thousands of them [in Spain]," Martins said. "They use them for hunting season and if they don't work out as hunters, they are unfortunately disposed of.
"They're kept in some pretty nasty situations: underground caves, buildings with no windows, no ventilation. And they're often chained up, so they don't lead a very good existence."
The Spanish dogs resemble the greyhound, with slightly longer hair and bigger ears, and have a similar disposition.
"Podencos and galgos are more active dogs than greyhounds," Martins said.
"Greyhounds are big couch potatoes. These guys are a lot more energetic. They're very athletic, they're extremely intelligent, so they're really good for training."
For the past six years, Martins said Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada has brought over about 90 podencos and galgos and found them homes.
Unlike the greyhound operation, where greyhounds were kept in the kennel until they were adopted, she doesn't bring the podencos and galgos into the country unless she has a home ready.
"We only bring over pre-adopted dogs because it's a big, big trip for these dogs to come over and go into a foster home and then have to go into another home," Martins said.
She knows she's not going to make it to Spain any time soon, but she's still working on adoptions.
"We actually have dogs over there waiting for families," Martins said.
She's formed a partnership with a Spanish rescue group called Podenco Friends. Staff there have agreed to hold the dogs for her until she can fly over and bring them home.
"We're hoping in the fall, we may be able to get over there," she said.
Those interested in adopting a galgo or podenco are asked to visit the group's website and fill out an application.
Eligible adopters will then have a home visit. If they pass the test, the organization will search for a dog.
Each dog costs $1,300, $300 of which goes to the Spanish rescue group and $1,000 to fly the dog in.
Martins said they're great dogs for an active family, but they need a two-metre fence to keep the dogs from escaping.