A greyhound adoption group in the Tampa area has received a $3,000 boost to its annual budget, thanks to the American Greyhound Council (AGC). The Greyhound Gang of Florida won the donation in a special prize drawing held at the conclusion of the National Greyhound Association (NGA) fall meet in late October at NGA headquarters in Abilene, KS. The drawing was held in celebration of the AGC’s 30th anniversary.

Every group that has received an AGC adoption grant since the program’s inception was included in the drawing, according to AGC Coordinator Jim Gartland.

Melissa Watermolen, vice president of the organization, said the group was “in disbelief” when they received word that they had won the prize. “We felt like we won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes,” she laughed.

Watermolen said the prize grant is especially meaningful to the Greyhound Gang because the organization is too small to qualify for many other adoption grant programs. “We may be small,” she said, “but what we do is very important for the dogs.” The organization handles anywhere from a dozen to 20 greyhounds a year, holding the dogs up to six months before they are placed in screened and approved adoptive homes.

“We screen prospective greyhound owners very carefully,” she said. Their process includes rigorous health screenings for the greyhounds and comprehensive education for the owners. Melissa said her group also maintains contact with the new greyhound owners through periodic checks to see how the transition is going. Many new owners become volunteers with the Greyhound Gang, she said.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to have won this prize,” she concluded. “It will help us pay for food and other essentials, and also help cover the cost of treatment and rehab for greyhounds with orthopedic issues.”

“The AGC board wanted to do something special to mark our 30th year, and to say thank you to the adoption community,” Gartland said. “Our greyhound adoption efforts have become a national success story because of the great cooperation between greyhound racing and adoption organizations all over the country. That’s worth celebrating!”

In addition to its regular annual grant program, which offers up to $1,250 to dozens of eligible groups, the AGC also donates $1,000 each to two outstanding greyhound adoption groups as part of the annual Greyhound Adoption Program of the Year (GAPY) initiative. The 2016 GAPY award winners will be announced in December.