Mya Perron, a junior at South Lake High School, hugs Sir Ian and Pepe, galgo greyhound dogs she helped rescue from Spain, March 14.

Mya Perron, a junior at South Lake High School, hugs Sir Ian and Pepe, galgo greyhound dogs she helped rescue from Spain, March 14.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

St. Clair Shores teens help rescue dogs half a world away

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 22, 2019

 Perron arrives at Detroit Metropolitan Airport with Pepe.

Perron arrives at Detroit Metropolitan Airport with Pepe.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


ST. CLAIR SHORES — It’s somewhat hard to imagine in the United States that someone would breed and train a dog just for two years of life, then dispose of it by hanging, abandonment or throwing it in a well once its usefulness is over.

But that’s the reality in Spain for many galgos, a type of Spanish greyhound dog, which are bred in that country primarily to hunt rabbits.

“The mentality there is that these dogs are only good for hunting,” said Dr. Karen Michalski, the owner of Serenity Animal Hospital in Sterling Heights. “The people who are using them (think) they’re not good for anything else, so once they’re done, they’re disposable.”

The dogs slow down with age, she said, so the hunters are always looking to the younger generation once the dogs become 2 or 3 years old. With proper care, however, the dogs could live to be 14-16 years old.

“Things have somewhat improved in Spain. There’s a lot more recognition of this. There’s a lot more shelters that have popped up over the years, but there’s still the old mentality in play,” Michalski explained. “They just don’t care about them after that, so they will just abandon them or let them run loose or throw them in a well.”

Michalski learned of the plight of the Spanish greyhounds in 2001. Since then, she has made more than a half-dozen trips to the country to rescue the dogs. She connects with different rescue groups in Spain to bring the dogs back to the United States, but she needs other volunteers to travel with her to bring the dogs home. The airline allows two dogs per flight in the cargo area and requires one human to travel on the flight with each dog.

When she traveled to Spain March 9-17, that group of rescuers included three teens from St. Clair Shores: Mya Perron and Miranda Orzechowski, both juniors at South Lake High School, and 19-year-old Brynn Perron, a 2018 graduate of South Lake High School in her first year at Wayne State University.

This was the Perron sisters’ first time leaving the country, with the exception of Canada.

“I was mostly just excited, not only to bring the dogs back, but also to experience this other culture,” said Mya Perron.

The Perron family has been involved in dog rescue groups for quite some time, Brynn Perron said. Their mother, Lenka Perron, had run her own nonprofit group, Retired Greyhounds as Pets, before she had children. When Brynn Perron reached her senior year of high school, she asked to foster a greyhound and they ended up fostering, then adopting, their first galgo.

“It was kind of natural for us to start getting more involved in the galgos,” Brynn Perron said. “We ended up fostering some a while ago and then we adopted two of them, so we wanted to help more and go over to Spain and bring them back.”

The group, which included one native Spanish speaker, had a few days to explore Barcelona and then met with Anna Clemens, of SOS Galgos, the rescue group in Spain working with Michalski. Each day, the group would take two dogs to where they were staying, and then the dogs and two members of the group would travel back to the U.S. the following day.

Brynn Perron said that some of the dogs were really skinny, and a couple were skittish, but “overall they were really loving and you could tell they’d make great dogs for a family over here.”

Mya Perron said there were a few hiccups throughout the trip, with car trouble and other problems, but “as soon as I saw the first two dogs, I felt replenished. It made all the trouble we had before worth it.”

“Each dog has their own personality and their own story. Even just spending a few hours with them, you can see that it replenishes the soul — it just does,” she added.

She was surprised to see that one of the dogs had a broken toe that had been left untreated.

“Dr. Karen was saying that it might have to be amputated, and that broke my heart,” she said.

Brynn Perron said that she was not surprised, but sad, to see scars on some of the dogs.

“You had to imagine what they had gone through,” agreed Mya Perron.

Not everyone in Spain is in favor of improper treatment of galgos, though. Mya Perron said that she has an exchange student friend from Spain who is very familiar with the plight of the dogs, but also very sympathetic.

“She can’t believe it happens, either,” Mya Perron said.

Brynn Perron said that the experience was amazing.

“Being with the dogs was so amazing. All of them. Being able to feel like you impacted the dogs and a family over here gets to have the joy of having a galgo. It’s a beautiful feeling,” she said. “I know what I’ve experienced with my galgo, how sweet they are.”

“These eight dogs are going to become the best spokespeople to raise awareness,” Lenka Perron said.

Now that the dogs are in the United States, Michalski said that they are hoping to get them into foster care soon and to find permanent homes for the dogs. Anyone interested in adopting a dog can fill out an adoption application at Serenity, on the Serenity Animal Adoptions Facebook page or call (586) 264-8387 for more information.

Although the dogs are usually kept outdoors in a closed barn or cave while they are used for hunting, Michalski said that they adapt quickly to living in a home with a family.

“(Once) we got them into the place we were staying, they jumped right up on the couch,” she said.