The American Greyhound Council (AGC) has recognized two outstanding greyhound adoption programs as the 2017 Greyhound Adoption Programs of the Year (GAPY). They are Adopt A Greyhound Atlanta, located in Stone Mountain, Georgia; and Maritime Greyhound Adoption Program (MGAP), located in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Adopt A Greyhound Atlanta Founder Carl Viener said he got into greyhound adoption by accident. In 1980, he found a stray Italian greyhound and couldn’t locate its owner, so he began visiting Victoryland in Alabama to learn more about greyhounds. He fell in love with the breed and the rest, as they say, is history.
Viener said he and his small brigade of volunteers typically place 90-100 greyhounds a year, and have adopted out over 6,000 greyhounds since the organization was founded. The group is based out of a kennel facility at Viener’s home, and the dogs are housed there until they are moved to their forever homes.
Most of the greyhounds placed through the Adopt A Greyhound Atlanta program come from Jacksonville and other Florida tracks, according to Carl. The majority are placed in adoptive homes within a 100-mile radius of Stone Mountain so that volunteers can provide support and assistance to the new owners.
When he learned that Adopt A Greyhound Atlanta was one of the two GAPY Award winners for this year, Viener said, “I’ve been waiting for years for this. I’ve seen the greyhound racing industry evolve over the past 20 years, and I’ve seen how committed they are to greyhound adoption.”
More than sixteen hundred miles north of Stone Mountain, Maritime Greyhound Adoption Program Founder Deb Levasseur and her volunteers place over 100 greyhounds a year throughout Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces.
Levasseur, a Certified Canine Behavior Therapist, founded MGAP in 2003 because she and other local greyhound adopters recognized the need for an adoption group in the area. Her expertise in canine behavior has informed the approach that MGAP takes in preparing greyhounds for life as pampered and beloved family pets.
MGAP utilizes a system of foster homes and positive behavior training for greyhounds entering the adoption system to help ease their transition from the track to home life. Levasseur said this process helps ensure that every greyhound is placed in a home that’s a good fit for the dog’s unique disposition and temperament. The dogs learn how to live with children and other animals, climb stairs, and cope with family life.
Deb said she is especially proud of MGAP’s online training program. After prospective greyhound owners complete a screening interview to qualify for adoption, they receive free access to a comprehensive online training course that covers virtually everything they need to know about building a successful relationship with their new pet.
“It’s so important for new greyhound owners to know what to expect,” Deb noted. “We cover everything from the basics of feeding, nutrition and grooming to more advanced things like house and yard training, setting boundaries, and helping your greyhound avoid separation anxiety.”
“We’re really thrilled to receive this award,” said Levasseur. “It’s very special to get honored for doing something you love to do. And the donation will be greatly appreciated too!”
Each of the GAPY award-winning organizations will receive a donation of $1,000, and a plaque for permanent display.
AGC President Bill Lee paid tribute to the award winners and added that every adoption group makes an important contribution.
“This year’s winners are both exceptional, but every group nominated had a great story to tell,” Lee said. “And for every group that gets nominated, there are dozens more who haven’t yet been nominated but continue to do the great work of greyhound adoption, day in and day out. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”