A boy hugs a greyhound that will be placed in temporary foster care at his home in Los Angeles. (Photo: STRINGER Mexico / Reuters)
Just a few miles south of California, where greyhound racing is banned, slow or aging racing dogs imported from the U.S. still compete at Tijuana’s Caliente racetrack, Reuters reports.
While the greyhound circuit dictates that dogs retire at the age of five, some run well into their sixth year. Others are forced to retire when they break a leg. And, sadly, thousands of former racing dogs are euthanized every year.
The McCrories help run the organization Fast Friends, which is committed to finding homes for every retired Caliente greyhound. Every few months Tom and a Fast Friends volunteer leave LaHabra at 4:30 a.m., and reach Mexico around 7:30.
About a dozen dogs are then loaded into “hound hauler” and taken back to Los Angeles for the Retirement Day adoption event. The dogs are inspected for scrapes and injuries, given baths and flea dips and, perhaps most importantly, tests to determine the kind of home they're best suited for.
Despite being natural hunters and trained to chase furry “rabbits” on the track, nearly every greyhound at Retirement Day runs away from the “test” cat, a Tuxedo named Kinko.
Foster families are the next step in turning these canine athletes, who spend much of their lives in cages or kennels, into house pets. In foster homes, the greyhounds are housebroken. They learn to catch tennis balls and walk up stairs.