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REGAP has been saving greyhounds since 1994

By: Julie Snyder | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 16, 2011

 Paul and Suzanne Luberacki of St. Clair Shores enjoy a relaxing evening with their adopted greyhounds, from left, Mya, Candy and Boots.

Paul and Suzanne Luberacki of St. Clair Shores enjoy a relaxing evening with their adopted greyhounds, from left, Mya, Candy and Boots.

Photo by David Schreiber

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St. Clair Shores residents Leslie Forys and Lenka Perron founded Retired Greyhounds as Pets 15 years ago.

Since then, she and her many volunteers have been able to find loving homes for more than 1,600 former racing greyhounds; dogs whose retirement from the track basically meant death.

When Paul and Suzanne Luberacki learned about REGAP more than 10 years ago, they were curious, but nonetheless unsure about adopting.

“There’s a misconception that greyhounds are very high strung,” said Paul Luberacki. “Actually, they’re about as low strung as you can get. They’re very cat-like in that they like to sleep a lot. Sure they’ll get a burst of energy, but they’ll go outside and burn it off or play with a toy in the house. Then they’ll go back to sleep.”

Luberacki said he and his wife got to know greyhounds a bit better through one of REGAP’s local meet-and-greet events. Once a month, volunteers and owners of greyhounds congregate at different pet stores and events where people who have those common misapprehensions can learn more about greyhounds and meet some of the adopted or adoptable pets.

“Greyhounds are very loyal. They’re quite clingy to their owners, and they have a nice temperament,” said Luberacki, adding that meet-and-greets are also held at events like the Arts and Apples Festival in Rochester and the Ann Arbor Art Festival.

“It’s amazing how great they are seeing what some of them have been through.”

Though greyhound racing is a dying sport — there are only seven states that host racing anymore — there are still countless dogs that are regularly disregarded once they’ve served their purpose.

Forys said most of the greyhounds she receives come directly from the race tracks. The majority come from Florida, West Virginia and Kansas.

She said the greyhounds usually come to REGAP from the racetrack anywhere between 18 months old and 5 years old. As long as they keep winning, they keep racing, but once they are no longer profitable to the racing industry, they must find permanent homes through adoption groups like Michigan REGAP. If adoption groups cannot absorb the thousands of dogs grading off the tracks annually, then they are put to death.

According to REGAP, more than 10,000 greyhounds are killed each year with the only reason being that they were too slow to make money for the racing industry.

The Luberackis currently have three retired racing greyhounds. Their first, Kenya, they had for more than three years until she fell ill and passed away at the age of 9.

They adopted Candy, now 6, when she was 2; and Mya, now 7, came into the family at the age of 2. The couple took on Boots, 5, a year ago as a foster family. They, as well as Candy and Mya, became quickly attached and decided to adopt her.

“We liked having three more than two,” Paul Luberacki said with a laugh. “It was much more fun.”

Fun is the word Luberacki uses to describe watching the dogs play together outside and at the Statler-Maloof Dog Park at Brys.

“Greyhounds are very sociable. They mostly love other greyhounds,” he said.

REGAP also has older greyhounds, “seniors,” that are over the age of 7 that have been returned to be re-homed for various reasons, such as their owners can no longer care for them.

“Some of them, when they first come to a home, have never seen children before or a television before,” said Luberacki. “Some have never seen vinyl floors or stairs.”

This is because much of a racing greyhound’s existence is spent inside a small crate. Many are kept there for 20-22 hours at a time between races. They’re only allowed out for short periods to relieve themselves or eat.

Luberacki said the fact that more and more tracks are closing in the United States each year is a good thing and a bad thing. Those dogs that are not given to adoption organizations like REGAP could eventually make their way to Mexico, where greyhound racing is big business.

“We need to raise more awareness about the inherent cruelty in the sport of greyhound racing,” said Luberacki.

He and others will do just that during a meet-and-greet at the Roseville PetSmart at 20530 13 Mile from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 19.

“It’s a great opportunity to show off how sweet and gentle these animals are, and how they make great pets,” said Luberacki.

For more information about REGAP, to learn how to adopt a greyhound or to get involved, call (800) GO HOUND or go to www.rescuedgreyhounds.com.
 

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