It began with a message on Instagram …
At the end of last year, we received an inquiry on Instagram from an Irish greyhound group that was looking for compatible adoption groups to rehome their Irish greyhounds.
We did our own research on the group.
The Flying Irish Greyhounds (FIG) is a small non-profit dedicated to rehoming retired Irish greyhounds. In 2014, they partnered with an American organization to begin placing greyhounds in the United States.
Ireland, the size of Indiana and with a population comparable to Alabama, has 16 dog tracks. There are more dogs exiting racing than available homes. Additionally, greyhounds are considered farm animals as opposed to family pets, which impacts their adoptability.
Our mission started by learning all the nuances of bringing dogs from overseas. Besides the customs process and paperwork, we needed to adhere to the USDA and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) guidelines for crate and bedding disposal and ensure the new arrivals were bathed within 24 hours of arrival. SA Greys coordinators worked on finding volunteers to assist with the necessary activities for when the dogs arrived, from uncrating and transporting the greyhounds from Phoenix to Tucson and to assist with Spa Day — bathing dogs in accordance with APHIS requirements.
We were ready to receive greyhounds on April 7 at Sky Harbor Airport when suddenly a week before arrival, American Airlines notified us that they were ceasing the transport of live animals because of temperatures rising over 85 degrees. Being tenacious, we found another international airport that would accept live animals, have cooler temperatures and work within the original arrangements. That airport — Los Angeles International Airport.
Five volunteers flew to LAX the day before to visit the American Airlines cargo facility and learn about the processing of dogs. Two large Sprinter vans were rented and padded with blankets and quilts the volunteers packed in checked baggage. Two more volunteers flew in the morning of April 7 to provide assistance along with three volunteers from the LA area.
At 4 p.m. on April 7, 12 beautiful greyhounds were escorted via crates to the American Airlines cargo facility where joyful volunteers eagerly awaited to formally meet the first Irish greyhounds. Fáilte! (Welcome in Gaelic.)
We were amazed how alert and happy each greyhound was when they were finally uncrated. They were healthy and showed no signs of stress or dehydration. Each dog was walked and received plenty of love from us and the cargo facility employees while waiting for final customs clearance.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m., accompanied by six Board members and one husband (Debra and Brian Hardman; Anne and Rudy Lopez; Jeanne Gacke; Abrie Schroeder; and Ann Chihak Poff) the Irish hounds headed to Tucson. At 4 a.m. that Friday morning, Wanda Abeyta, owner of Lazy Grey Ranch, greeted us. She took each dog for another walk, then bedded them down before spa day baths commencing at 8:30 am.
Everyone who flew to LAX and had travel-related expenses, paid their own way and also paid for gas. SA Greys funds, a little more than $22,000 after adoption fees, were used exclusively to cover customs fees and transportation costs from Ireland to LAX. Dozens helped transport, at spa day and getting the greyhounds into forever homes wearing beautiful Celtic martingale and buckle collars with matching leashes made and donated by Michelle Caillet from Greyt Escape.
None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for you, our members and the financial support received. So thank you kindly. SA Greys hopes to bring more Irish hounds to Tucson later in the year. Stay tuned ...
Pictures from the houndies arrival. Read one of the Irish greyhound's story below.