Widow Finds Best Friend At Greyhound Park

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Brandy was at the end of her dog days as a professional racer, facing a forced retirement and an uncertain future.

And then along came Elsie Ammann. She adopted Brandy, and now the two are blissfully happy roommates.

Considering the fact that about 40,000 greyhounds are born in the U.S. each year and, after adoption efforts, an estimated 20,000 are killed by the racing industry annually as a result of illness, injury, or for being "too slow," Brandy is one fortunate pooch.

"I had a little Maltese that was 16 years old, and I knew she wasn't going to live a whole lot longer," Ammann, a Payson widow, said. "I had read some articles on how there are former racing greyhounds which needed to be adopted badly, so I called one of the vets out at the Apache Greyhound Track in Apache Junction."

The cost to adopt, Ammann was told, would be $150 which would include spaying or neutering, a dental cleaning, a toenail trimming and bath, "everything so that they're all ready to go to a home," she said.

When Ammann showed up to claim her pick of the available litters, one greyhound promptly caught her eye.

"She came right over to me. It was just like love at first sight. She was just a beautiful animal. Her racing name was Hey Brandy. I just dropped the Hey."

This was not your typical animal adoption, however, where you bring home a dog that someone else has diligently trained in the ways of domestic life.

"Brandy had never been in a home before, she was not housebroken, and she really didn't know what to do," Ammann said. "But they want to please so much. Brandy's disposition is wonderful; she loves everybody and thinks children are the greatest thing that ever happened. And even though I've never tried to stop her from doing it, she has never jumped up on the furniture. Not once.

"To have all of these qualities, I felt, was just wonderful. I could not ask for a better dog."

According to the Humane Society of the United States, greyhound racing was the sixth most popular spectator sport in the nation just 10 years ago. But mounting opposition and complaints from animal rights advocates have left the sport legal in only 16 states, including Arizona, and specifically banned in Idaho, Maine, Nevada, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Little wonder, considering some of the statistics compiled on the HUSA's Internet website:

Greyhounds are kept in stacked crates for 18 to 22 hours per day and are let out only four times a day to relieve themselves. They are kept muzzled while racing and even while in their crates. They are also forced to run at high speeds in the worst weather conditions, resulting in injury and sometimes death.

Disposal methods for greyhounds include euthanasia, gunshot, starvation, bludgeoning, abandonment, electrocution, and sale/donation to medical research facilities.

Most greyhounds are retired at age 3-4.

There are 150 privately funded independent adoption groups in the U.S., but less than half of retired greyhound racers ever make it to adoption.

In other words, Brandy is one very lucky greyhound.

"This just worked out so perfectly," Ammann said. "I may have saved a dog's life, and I have the best little companion you could ask for. It sure would be wonderful to see more people adopting these wonderful dogs."

Greyhound adoptions

To learn how you can adopt a greyhound, contact the Greyhound Pets of America - Arizona Chapter, P.O. Box 2365, Glendale, AZ 85311, (800) 366-1472, snooty@qwest.net

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