Keeping track of retired greyhounds

A DOG lover has dedicated herself to giving greyhounds a happy life after the track. Kelli Windebank, 26, from Hardy Close in Hitchin, has been finding homes for retired greyhounds and greyhound crosses since she adopted her lurcher, Max, from a rescue c

A DOG lover has dedicated herself to giving greyhounds a happy life after the track.

Kelli Windebank, 26, from Hardy Close in Hitchin, has been finding homes for retired greyhounds and greyhound crosses since she adopted her lurcher, Max, from a rescue centre in 2005.

Since then she has volunteered with Greyhounds Rescue West England and is now spearheading the charity's expansion into Hertfordshire.

Kelli said: "At least 10,000 greyhounds 'retire' from racing in Britain every year, at an average age of just two-and-a-half years old because of injury or because they are judged no longer good enough to race. Lurchers are pretty unlucky too, often being used for illegal coursing, dumped, mistreated and ending up in local pounds on death row.


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"My volunteer work has mainly involved transporting and housing these dogs. Checking to see whether homes are suitable and also if they have a garden area for the dog to play in. We need to check if the potential owners will genuinely care for their lurcher or greyhound.

"Earlier this year I was asked if I would be interested in taking on the voluntary regional officer role for Hertfordshire. This involves fundraising, awareness, taking needy dogs in and getting them ready for their new homes and then finding the right homes for them - of course I jumped at the chance to be able to help!"

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Explaining how they find new owners, Kelli said: "We have held several meet and greets outside Pets at Home in Letchworth and we held one in Hitchin town centre where people could come along and meet our dogs and talk to us about owning a greyhound or lurcher.

"From the meetings we have held we have found homes for three of our greyhounds and also raised over £400 for our much needed funds. It gets incredibly busy and on one day I was on my feet from 9.30 in the morning until 3.30 in the afternoon - but it's enjoyable because I know it's worth it in the end.

"Until very recently we could only help a couple of dogs at a time as we were relying on volunteer foster homes to look after the dogs until homes were found, but we have just moved into local kennels and already have five greyhounds and one lurcher all ready and waiting for their new homes.

"Each of these dogs is vaccinated, neutered, micro-chipped and any necessary veterinary treatment sought before they are ready for their new home.

"At the moment we have Belle - left behind by illegal coursers - who we took from the pound as she would have been put to sleep.

"Martha and Emmy are a pair that we matched up, one was handed to us from a man who said his friend left the dog four months earlier and the other was found wandering by the side of the A1 - we took her direct from the dog warden.

"Sarah and Phoebe have both come from their racing trainer. Sarah came to us with a limp and the next day we took her to the vets and found out her leg was actually broken and had probably been like that for several weeks. Of course we have made sure Sarah has had all the veterinary attention she needs and this is ongoing with weekly cast changes. Sarah is living with me until she recovers and then we need to find her a fantastic home. Phoebe is very nervous and is in foster care learning about the big wide world.

"Each dog costs the charity an average of £300 to get ready for their new home, all we ask our adopters is to offer a good home for life and a donation of their choice towards our on-going work.

"These beautiful dogs are so desperate for homes yet they make the most wonderful laid-back companions, I think every dog loving home needs one!"

For details of the next meet and greet session, if you would like to adopt a dog, volunteer or make a donation, call Kelli on 01462 421063 or 07876 763516, or go to the Greyhounds Rescue website www.grwe.com

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