Moose, one of my Twitter buddies, is a disgustingly cute Italian Greyhound (I believe) who has attracted an unseemly number of Twitter followers. Somewhere along the way his minions had the notion to start a Sighthound Welfare Charity in the UK. Being in the UK and (for the moment in the EU) my peeps are well aware of the plight of the Spanish Glagos (a field bred coursing hound) and the UK is awash in lurchers (deliberate greyhound crossbreeds bred as field dogs). Strong regulation and a strong network of adoption charities support the UK racing greyhound population but the hunting bred dogs are not well regulated and don’t have the industry assisted adoption network enjoyed by the racing dogs. It is with the field bred Galgos and Lurchers where I see Moose’s Trust filling a need.
Lurchers in the US
We have a similar but less severe issue with lurchers in the US. It is seen mostly out on the prairie where sportsmen breed coursing dogs to hunt rabbit, coyote, etc. As a secondary mission, Greyhound Adoption League of Texas places lurchers from time to time. GALT makes in-take photos of most of its incoming hounds and posts them on various social media. Invariably the too-lean odd-looking hounds are lurchers. GALT is successful in fostering and placing its lurchers.
Field Dog Enthusiasts Need Support Also
Field sport enthusiasts should observe the same ethical breeding and placement standards that our show and trials dog breeders observe. Sadly, there is no organized welfare group communicating with the sporting dog enthusiasts so they are unaware of the alternatives available for their hounds’ post-field life. Often these people are located in small counties that don’t have the robust public animal welfare operations found in our coastal cities.
How Moose can help
I wish Moose’s trust good fortune and hope that they are effective in organizing a support network for the UK lurchers. From my Twitter following I’m aware that many greyhound trusts (UK for public corporations like US 501c(3)) take in lurchers as do general dog welfare trusts. The existence of networking and mutual aid is not visible in the random tweets Twitter serves up. I think this is an area where Moose’s Trust could help.
A US Example
Collaboration between US racing breeders, racing owners, racing kennels and the US adoption charities makes it possible to place over 95% of retiring US racers. Transport networks get dogs from where they retire to charities having room for them. Track adoption kennels care for the dogs, place dogs locally, and house dogs until transport to an out of area adoption charity is possible. Track funds also provide needed vet care and several of our veterinary medicine schools provide pro-bono orthopdedic care of racing injuries.
Each dog ships out having had needed care, dental care, spay or neutering, and vaccinations in compliance with state law. Increasingly, dogs pass through inmate foster care training programs and arrive with AKC Canine Good Citizen manners, good house training, and a robust ask to use the loo.
Yes, the Racing Greyhound is Special
The wise breeding and rearing of the racing greyhound helps make this success possible. The industry has improved husbandry and race training to increase the yield of racers per liter and has selected for health, unreactive sociability, keenness to chase, and intelligence to run a smart tactical race without a ride-along coach. Greyhounds have been selected for performance rather than appearance making them a somewhat odd-looking lot as purebred dogs go. The same traits that allow the racing greyhound to live in a track colony, tolerate race day handling, and enter the starting box and thrill the punters make possible an easy transition to companion life. Without greyhound racing, we would not have these fine dogs.