By Jennifer Cullen - GPA/EC
North Florida has always had its share of greyhounds.
Northwest Florida is promoted by our tourism department as 'The Other Florida' and is quite different than the southern areas of the state. In fact, we were hailed asthe 'Redneck Riviera' for years in newspapers by our adjacent states. As that implies, the tourist crowd up here is a bit different than Palm Beach
or the Magic Kingdom! But, like the rest of the state, we share greyhound racing. As in tourism, our perspective of greyhound racing is a bit different too. Ebro was known as a puppy track for years and there are still some people who prefer to break in pups here before sending them to other tracks. But primarily, the tracks through N FL have become the grade-off tracks, taking in dogs who fail to make the competition elsewhere.
Some are very young pups that fail to school well and others are racing
veterans,coming in from Tri-State, Wheeling, Daytona, the Gulf, Southland and
many other tracks. There is a wide range of diversity and ability...and a
lot of dogs grading off.
Our group, GPA/EC was originally two separate entities. GPA/EC was started in Pensacola and focused on the PE track. Another group, Valentine Adoption was formed by myself and the assistance of a trainer at Ebro. We focused on Ebro dogs. In 2002, we combined efforts. The consolidation seemed to put the best use of resources to work for both tracks. Immediately, we were able to see the efforts pay off and the now expanded GPA/EC immediately went to work to haul dogs out with our own equipment and drivers and continue with local
In 2004, several things happened. We could see that we were expanding and
the number of dogs that we hauled out to adoption groups was increasing-this
was a good thing. Local adoption was up,more members were becoming involved.
Things looked very promising.
And then Ivan struck.
Suddenly, PE and many other tracks were facing a different twist on getting dogs to adoption groups. We were all coping with adoptions and trying to get our lives back to normal after the storms. RaceForAdoption stepped in and offered the t-shirt drive which boosted funds for our hauls. Before Ivan, we felt we had a comfortable level of funds and could handle the day to day operations of adoption - any extra medical care needed, the insurance, gas, maintenance of our GPA van and hauler. Post-Ivan, without RaceForAdoption, we couldn't have made all
the trips and taken in the extra dogs that were left without a job due to the storm.
We have closed out 2004 but we are still trying to get the last dogs that are at Pensacola into groups. Pensacola has started schooling and is set to reopen soon, Ebro has begun its 2005 meet. During 2004, we spent approx. $30,000 in hauling expenses alone. We have an on-going boarding contract so
that we can take dogs from Pensacola and house them during their surgeries or injury recuperation. Both of these expenses are not recoverable in our adoption fee, we depend on donations to keep these projects going.
We adopted or hauled out 400 dogs from Pensacola, Ebro, Mobile, Daytona and
Hollywood. On most of the adoptions, we can break even on vetting bills, but
there are always exceptions. In 2004, we had several dogs diagnosed with
tick disease, with broken hocks and with other assorted medical problems. We
will be there for these greyhounds too and can never recover the total
veterinary costs from an adopter. We have taken in quite a few displaced
greyhounds that are in the animal shelters. No one claimed them, so we have taken them in, given them TLC, many require extra vet care and then get them re-homed. In other areas, we have very active members. On any given weekend GPA/EC is holding a Meet and Greet, sometimes two! Obviously, we have a wonderful core team who are all dedicated to placing greyhounds in quality homes and to educating folks regarding ex-racers as pets. I wish I could say that we are within the target range to give all ex-racers from Pensacola and Ebro the option of adoption, but we have a long way to go. We are however, nearer than ever before and gaining all the time.
Every year, we have accomplished a little more. We expect 2005 to continue that trend. RaceForAdoption money helps us concentrate on our #1 focus - the greyhounds. We have added a second dog hauler,we are looking into permanent kennel space, we are making plans for more trips and new ways to promote adoption.
In short, we plan to spend RaceForAdoption money exactly as we have spent our funds in the past, getting ex-racers into caring homes...and we expect to place more than ever before--thanks to the generosity of the RaceForAdoption team, the donors and the contribution of the RaceForAdoption dogs.
We are already off to a good start. The first weekend of Jan, we hauled 10
dogs and this past weekend, another 8 traveled in the GPA/EC rig to waiting
groups. Meanwhile, 3 dogs were adopted locally. The RaceForAdoption money will help us
continue to expand our efforts throughout NW Florida, it puts a lot of new
possibilities within our grasp - thanks to all those who have worked, donated
and especially to our 'Holiday Hound' and the other RaceForAdoption dogs- they are
running for a good cause.