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Irish Greyhounds Chasing new life

Every dog has unique journey all their own and some of those journeys start from even more faraway places than others! For the Irish Greyhounds now coming to our shores, this is how their paths to their new homes begin. Partnering with organizations in Ireland, regional Greyhound adoptions are now paving the way for these majestic beings to begin finding homes here in the States. One of the main ports of entry for them will be right here in North Carolina, with many of them arriving at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. This facilitates quick transport throughout the whole of the states, and will continue to be a reliable point of entry for all greyhounds leaving by way of Belfast and London. I recently got the opportunity to volunteer in facilitating the arrival of several Irish Greyhounds last year on Veteran's Day in Charlotte, every one being welcomed by a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers from various adoption organizations throughout the country. These hounds had a big day of travel - starting on a ferry from Ireland to England, a plane from England to D.C., with their last leg being a flight from D.C. to Charlotte.

The industry in Ireland for racing is substantial just in numbers alone. There are 20 operating tracks in the whole of the country, 17 in the Republic of Ireland and 3 in Northern Ireland. According to a report in 2017, the industry as a whole breeds well over a 1000% more puppies in it's registered litters than it needs to conduct the racing in both the Republic and in Northern Ireland. And with tens of millions dollars betting on the races every year, the industry shows no signs of quelling in volume. This produces over saturation and there is no guarantee for a placement for every one of the greyhounds into a new home once they retire from racing or dropout during the upbringing and training process, resulting in fewer than over 1,000 hounds actually being retired every year within Ireland itself. Through UK and Ireland-based adoption partners teaming up with regional Greyhound adoption groups, a new path has opened up for these beautiful dogs to find new homes. Partnerships began in 2019 (Irish Retired Greyhound Trust and Greyhound Pets of America National being the predominant two) to ensure a healthy pack of racers coming to the U.S. upon full health and travel clearance. Every retired greyhound undergoes no fewer than three medical evaluations, and even has a passport assigned before any travel is conducted. It is no secret that the availability of dogs from Ireland is a direct result of Florida, and other states, banning gambling on racing dogs, with resulting track closures. What has been gained in legislation has also resulted in fewer of this beautiful breed available for the average American household to adopt. The face of Greyhound adoptions in the U.S. is about to dramatically change and Ireland will become the lifeline for adoptions in the U.S. A new race has begun, and the finish line, through hard work and dedicated volunteers, will be at the front door of new and loving homes for each and every one of these incredible working dogs!

James Lyon, CPDT-KA is a professional dog trainer and owner of Ilio Canine Care. His fiance Kimberly Blackwell is an Accounting Manager for a law firm.


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