Greyhound Adoption in Canada
Are you a Canadian wondering where you can find a Retired Racing Greyhound for a pet?
Canada has no dog racing industry, no homegrown source of newly retired racers just panting to go into a loving home. That's a good thing, in its way. But if your heart is set on a greyhound as a pet, you don't need to work directly with a track to rescue the dog of your dreams from the athlete's life and introduce him to the ways of a pampered pet.
All over Canada, keen volunteers and a few dedicated pros work tirelessly to run greyhound adoption services, matching up American ex-racers with their "forever homes" north of the border.
Maybe you've been thinking you'd need to go through a lot of complicated paperwork and great expense, to adopt a retired racing greyhound from the United States? Not so! Read on to learn more about these groups, the application process, and how to find the top greyhound adoption groups in your province or region.
All photographs are by the author. Copyright © Flycatcher, all rights reserved.
Most of the greyhound adoption services in Canada will, from time to time, set up an information booth at public events with a pet focus, such as flyball tournaments and pet fairs, or show off the retired racers in holiday parades to help raise awareness of the breed as a potential family pet. You'll also find that adoption groups often hold a "meet and greet" by special arrangement with dog-friendly venues such as some community-minded shopping malls and pet supply stores. PetSmart is especially supportive to rescue groups in my own area and helps to advertise these events. Keep and eye on your local newspaper or events calendar for the next "Meet and Greet" date in your area.
But First... - Read Up on Ex-Racers
Many greyhound adoption groups will ask you to research and read about the breed before you commit to a long-term relationship with one of these very special dogs as your family pet. Lee Livingood's book, , was the first really easy-to-read and down-to-earth guide for adopters, and it remains the most widely recommended work. Retired Racing Greyhounds For Dummies
If you can't find a copy in your local independent bookstore or public library, you can pick up the paperback or Kindle ebook very inexpensively at Amazon.com (see below), or at Amazon.ca if you'd rather purchase in Canadian dollars.
This link goes to the listing on the main US site, Amazon.com. When you click through, however, they'll offer you the choice to transfer to a country-specific site (for example, Amazon.ca if you're in Canada), if you prefer to shop in local currency.
Good News for Greyhounds
Track closures mean fewer ex-racers are looking for homes, especially in western Canada
The good news for greyhounds is that tracks have been closing down at a fast pace over the last decade, and fewer dogs are being bred for racing. That means there are not as many ex-racers to compete for retirement homes as there once were, so a higher percentage of pooches are getting placed than ever before.
The down side is that this also means our rescue groups in some areas of Canada - notably the western provinces, as most of the remaining US tracks are in the Florida area - are scaling back their placement services these days and you may have to wait a little bit longer than before to be matched up with the perfect greyhound pet for you.
If you can't find a greyhound to adopt in your own province, try a neighbouring province. Adoption groups have a great network to place ex-racers!
Although its kennels are located in Washington state, Greyhound Pets Inc. serves British Columbia, Canada, as well. Steven Waines is the contact person for all BC adoptions, and you can find his contact information along with details on available dogs right here.
Another group, Northwest Canadian Greyhound League serves British Columbia as well as Alberta where it was founded in 1999 to rescue greyhounds from Canada's only dog track, in Calgary. NCGL is a bit unusual in that it arranges the adoption of NGA-registered retired racing greyhounds , but also handles unregistered greyhounds who have never raced. They also place "coyote hounds," which are a cross of greyhound with another breed, often a larger and heftier dog such as a wolfhound. You can check out the available dogs on their website.
In the province of Alberta, I've long been a great fan of the Chinook Winds Greyhound Rescue, which since its beginning in 2004 has placed more than 1300 retired racers into loving families all through Western Canada. That's one fine record. Chinook Winds is no longer bringing new dogs up from the United States, however, because all the recent closures of tracks mean that most of the racing greyhound are located in the Florida area, and from there to Alberta is a very long way to transport a sensitive living creature.
The group may have changed its focus a bit, but it is important to note that they are still taking care of any that had been placed through their agency and now for some reason need to be rehomed, so do check their website for available dogs. You may be lucky enough to get a Chinook Winds dog of mature years and some experience as a family pet.
Alternatively, pay a visit to Northern Sky Greyhounds which was formed by former Chinook Winds volunteers who wanted to continue the active placement of recently retired racers.
As of this writing, Albertans looking to adopt an ex-racer also have the option to get in touch with two Calgary area groups: the Southern Alberta Greyhound Association or the Northwest Canadian Greyhound League, which, as noted above, is also active in British Columbia.
Although Northern Sky Greyhounds is registered as a non-profit in Alberta and based in Edmonton, the group also serves Manitoba and Saskatchewan with board members living in both of those provinces. For prospective greyhound adopters in Saskatchewan, Northern Sky offers the most practical alternative to working with an American group to import an ex-racer.
This is a small and new (February 2013) organization that is composed of a number of grey lovers who had previously volunteered with Chinook Winds until that agency changed direction and discontinued the program for bringing in retirees from the US tracks. The dogs brought into western Canada by Northern Sky are primarily coming off the track in Arizona.
Hi Speed Hounds is a small greyhound adoption service in Winnipeg, MB. The website has not been updated with available dogs for some time, but we're told that they are still doing a small number of placements. Get in touch with Michaela Lamoureux through the website to check the current status.
Prospective "forever families" looking to adopt in the province of Manitoba may also want to look into groups in Ontario, as provincial boundaries are seldom a barrier - as long as get-to-know-you visits and hound transportation can be arranged to everyone's satisfaction.
As mentioned above, too, the new Northern Sky Greyhound Adoption Association may be headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, but it's active in Manitboa with a representative located right in Winnipeg. Check out the Northern Sky group on Facebook to see some of the dogs they've placed in the three prairie provinces and learn more about events and activities.
GRA Canada is located in Mount Elgin, near London, Ontario, and places ex-racers throughout the region. The very active adoption group maintains an excellent discussion forum where greyhound owners ask questions and exchange information about the various challenges and joys of living with greys. Even if you choose to adopt through a different group, GRA Canada's message board is a great resource!
GINA - Greyhounds in Need of Adoption runs a well establish adoption program in the region bounded by the city of Toronto, St. Catherine's, Kitchener/Waterloo, Barrie, Whitby and Oshawa, ON. You can connect with GINA on Facebook for up-to-date listings of their Meet-and-Greet events where you can talk with program volunteers and meet some of the dogs. Even if you're not within their geographic region, GINA's volunteers are often able to direct you to an adoption group that's a bit closer to home for you.
The League Of Extraordinary Greyhounds is located in Montreal. They're an all-volunteer racing-neutral group, operating since 2006 in cooperation with tracks and kennels owners in the US as well as working closely with groups in Ottawa and Edmonton, part of the international network of greyt volunteers who cooperate to place retired greyhounds in appropriate and loving homes when their racing careers are over. You can connect with T-Legs on Facebook to learn more about the group, their application process, and the dogs that are currently available for adoption.
Greyhound Rescue Quebec / SOS Levrier du Quebec is active in Montreal as well, pre-qualifying adopters who then have an appropriate greyhound selected for them by the rescue group's American contact and bringing in the greys as soon as a few homes are lined up, about every five or six weeks.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland & Labrador
For more than 21 years, Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada has been finding homes in Canada's east coast provinces for retired racing greyhounds and, recently, for a small number of Spanish Galgos in partnership with Scooby Medina, a shelter in Spain.
Based in Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia, with representatives throughout the Maritimes, GPAC brings up to thirty ex-racers every month or 45 days from Florida to the group's NS facility. There, the dogs are vet-checked, cat-tested, and assessed for matchmaking with their new families in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland. Any "special needs" dogs are placed into experienced foster homes for special care, additional assessment, and positive training to help them transition successfully to life as pets.
Check out the available dogs on the website, or connect with GPAC on Facebook. As well, there's a dedicated Newfoundland & Labrador branch of GPAC to provide direct support and information for those in Canada's most eastern province who want to adopt an ex-racing greyhound.
This list is kept as current as possible, but it is by no means exhaustive. Please drop a note in the Guestbook below if you have a recommendation.
How to Apply to Adopt a Greyhound - What to Expect
Every greyhound adoption group will be a bit different in its application procedure and requirements, but in general...
The application process helps you to understand the needs of this special breed and ensures that a hound is a good fit for your family. Normally the process will follow these steps:
1) You fill out an application form, either in person or online.
2) The agency will contact you to schedule a home visit. At a mutually agreed-upon time, a local representative of the greyhound adoption program (usually a volunteer) will bring their greyhound to your home for a visit. This gives you a chance to talk about the requirements of the breed, answer your questions, and give you a feel for what it will feel like to have a greyhound in your home. Meanwhile, the rep will get a better sense of what you and your family are like in personality and lifestyle, the better to help match you up with the right greyhound for you.
3) If you decide to go ahead with the adoption, the match-making begins! If a suitable dog is already available, you may be able to receive him or her without delay. Otherwise, there may be a short waiting period until another "load" of greyhounds is brought up from the States, vet-checked, spayed or neutered, and prepared for their new lives as companion animals. Depending on the season and weather, and on the group you're working with, this time could be as little as a week or as long as a month or two.
With any greyhound group, there is a small adoption fee - much less than the cost of adopting any other breed of purebred dog with a documented pedigree, that's for sure! - which goes to help cover a small part of the dog's medical expenses and cross-border transportation.
Almost all of the people working to find homes for greyhounds in Canada are operating within a registered non-profit organization (and if they aren't, you might want to ask why not), the adoption fee is not tax-deductible under Canadian law as it's not a strightforward donation - after all, you get a great dog in return!
Or do you already have the pleasure of living with one or more long-legged hounds? Share your stories of "Gotcha Day" and tell us a bit about your furry friends!