On November 7, 2008 the 32 year old Guam Greyhound Park, with approximately 250 greyhounds at the racetrack, abruptly closed. The closing was in response to the results of a failed initiative on the November 4 ballot which would have permitted casino style gambling on the racetrack property. John Baldwin, owner of the racetrack, who had tried to get similar initiatives passed three times in the past six years claimed the racetrack was losing $100,000 a month. On November 24,the Guam Greyhound Park started a public giveaway of 150 of the racetrack's greyhounds. Dogs were given away free to anyone who came to the track. None of the greyhounds were spayed or neutered. No record was kept of who got the greyhounds, how many each person took and no legal transfer of title was made. Obviously, no standard adoption process was in place: no home check and no information about greyhound behavior or care.
GRIN donated $600 to the Guam Greyhound rescue fund!
It has been reported that many people took the free greyhounds believing they would make good guard dogs. Some of the islands dog fighting �fans� took greyhounds to bait fighting dogs or to breed, thinking it would make the fighting dogs faster or quicker. It didn�t take long for the greyhounds to show up stray or in very bad circumstances. The following updates from Guam Animals In Need (GAIN) volunteers, Dave and Noni Davis, tells a vivid story of this immense tragedy. GAIN (the only animal rescue on the island) has now found these giveway greyhounds starved and even dead.
Around December 10, an agreement was reached with the track in which the remaining greyhounds would be adopted or relocated in accordance with GAIN policies and procedures. Exact numbers have been difficult to ascertain due to the lack of access to all of the greyhounds housed at the racetrack. It appears, however, that GAIN has received or picked up 49 greyhounds that are in their care, another 71 at the track have been sterilized are are waiting for relocation and there is an unknown number of unaltered dogs at the track who's future is dependent on decisions made by the track management. Most of these greyhounds need to come to the mainland for adoption in their �forever� homes.
So far GAIN has adopted 18 greyhounds locally and six are in foster care. As of January 19th nine greyhounds have been shipped via Continental Airlines (50% discount) to Los Angeles and are being cared for by Homestretch Greyhound Rescue and Adoption in Fillmore. Plans are in place for continuing shipments every three to five days. As dogs arrive they will be relinquished to greyhound rescue groups throughout the west coast.
The enormity of this emergency and the heroic efforts of the GAIN volunteers is clearly evident when you consider the the size of Guam. The island, U.S. territory, is about three times the size of Washington D.C. with a population of 175,000 people. Imagine a hundred greyhounds running loose. Imagine the future ecological catastrophe and public health problem when even a few surviving females come into heat.
Hundreds of Greyhounds are still facing a dire situation, but the word has spread and Greyhound rescue groups around the country are coming together in a great effort to help the most helpless, those Greyhounds stuck on an island, a U.S. Territory and nowhere to go. As of today, 1/24/09, fourteen Greyhounds have made the trip from Guam to California; 10 left Homestretch Greyhounds in Fillmore CA traveling north to various rescue groups. Donations are still needed for transport, medical, and food for those coming into groups who have added to their fosters. These dogs have not kept the groups from taking in their usual dogs, it has just increased their efforts and for that we thank them all. A special thanks to Barbara Davenport and Bob Smith of Homestretch Greyhound Rescue for helping make this rescue happen!