I would love to close the door on this year and never look back. Can we just pretend 2020 was all a horrible dream?
Sadly, no. We can't pretend the last 12 months didn't happen because we will have to live with the changes it has wrought for many years to come. As Greyhound racing officially comes to an end in Florida today, the fate of the adoption groups dedicated to placing retired racers remains uncertain. Some have already shut down and more will do so--but many will transition to help other sighthounds in need.
2019 was the Year of the Greyhound. Groups and adopters from all over the US and Canada rallied around racers in the wake of Florida's decision. For SHUG, 2020 was supposed to be the Year of the Galgo. We knew that many Greyhound lovers would begin looking to Galgos for adoption. Our goal was to streamline our transports and work on making international adoptions easier and less expensive. On March 5th SHUG submitted an offer on a property to create an adoption center in the south of Spain. One week later the world came to a grinding halt.
When COVID hit, international transports were abruptly canceled and Greyhound groups scrambled to place dogs from tracks suddenly closed down, months ahead of schedule. On March 26th, SHUG accepted 30 Greyhounds, the largest group of dogs we've ever received in one day. Thanks to an awesome team of volunteers, we made it work. The volunteers who came out that night to meet the truck and over the next several days to help walk, wash, and transport dogs were absolutely amazing.
Over the course of the year we received another 12 dogs, for a total of 42 Greyhounds in 2020. Since our inception in 2012, Greyhounds have never been SHUG's sole focus. In addition to those 42 Greyhounds, this year SHUG also brought in:
1 Irish Wolfhound
1 Silken Windhound
These dogs arrived directly from their owners, from municipal shelters in the US, and from private shelters and rescue groups overseas. SHUG doesn't rescue dogs off the streets and we are grateful for the staff and volunteers at our partners who do the hard work of those intakes. They nurse dogs back to health, give them vaccinations and prepare their paperwork, and help them take the first steps to their new lives. We are honored to be entrusted with taking the next step and finding these dogs their forever homes.
No matter what happens in 2021, we will continue to fulfill our mission of finding forever homes for sighthounds. There has been so much speculation, but the truth is that things are still completely up in the air in regards to COVID, travel restrictions, and racing. Yes, there are still Greyhounds racing. Will more tracks close? Will more tracks open, or reopen? The only thing I can tell you is that I don't believe that racing Greyhounds will ever return to the numbers that adopters have been used to seeing. There will never again be 30,000 or 10,000 or even 5,000 Greyhounds born every year. But there are that many and more Galgos and Podencos and Salukis who need homes.
SHUG will continue to support sighthounds wherever they are in need, and bring them to the US and Canada to find forever homes. In 2021 SHUG will prioritize setting up a center in Spain to help coordinate the care and transport of adoptable sighthounds to homes in North America. This will be our largest undertaking to date and we hope that we will have your support. Please stay tuned in the coming months for more news about our plans and progress.
2020 may be over (finally!) but our adventure is just beginning.