Happy First Birthday Second Chance Greyhounds!!

On January 26, 2010, Second Chance Greyhounds will officially be one year old!  Last evening at our monthly meeting we celebrated with some awesome birthday cake!

It feels like it was just yesterday, when in fact it was a little over a year ago when Heather and I began chatting about the prospects of starting a new Greyhound adoption group and including a prison foster program.  

From there, we began laying the foundation for Second Chance Greyhounds.  The business stuff ie filing our corporate name, filing for our EIN number and all those other filings one must do to be a legit corporation, plus developing the By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation, and numerous other documents required for various filings.  Oh and I can't forget the tedious task of filing for our 501c3 status with the IRS.  The final paperwork for that was submitted the end of February and our approval arrived the end of March.  We were thrilled, to say the least, that we were approved so quickly.  This opened up lots of doors for grants and fundraising opportunities!  

We did our research so we could be educated and informed about prison foster programs.  We watched a DVD of a program in Michigan that will make the most stoic person bawl like a baby!! 

It's very touching to see the impact fostering and training a Greyhound has on hard core criminals in our prison system.  It was obvious the men were quite honored to be in the program and understand it is quite a privilege.  They know that doing anything to jeopardize their involvement in the program will more than likely result in their dismissal from the program and their return to the general inmate population with NO special privileges. 

They dote on their dog and protect their dog.  They spend countless hours with their dog, training and providing companionship.  And in return, they get all the unconditional love a dog can muster.  They are not alone - they have a friend who doesn't know or care about their past.  Add to that the satisfaction of a job well done at the end of the 9-week program when their fully trained dog graduates and is then released to the adoption group to be placed into their forever home.

From the beginning, we worked night and day, it seemed, to get the program off the ground.  Our efforts finally paid off when our first group of five Greyhounds left Southern New England Kennel at Birmingham Race Course, to head to Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida to be included in the first Greyhound prison foster program at that facility.  It was so exciting seeing that first group grow and mature during the 9-week program through our weekly updates - then picking them up afterwards, sending them off to their forever families, and finally watching them flourish, henceforth.  That's what it's all about folks!  That's why we do what we do! 

We had a total of 45 adoptions for 2009 which isn't too shabby for a brand new kid on the block.  We are proud of our efforts and, of course, hope those numbers climb in 2010.  The more we can send through the program then place into their forever homes means more and more Greyhounds after them can enjoy their retired life!  It seems like a never-ending cycle but there are so many rewards for our efforts!

If ever I doubt my involvement with this group (and this is rare), I take out that DVD and listen, again, to the prisoners talk so proudly about the Greyhounds in their care, those currently in training and even those from years past.  It is very touching and is a testament to the successfulness of prison foster programs. 

I am proud to be associated with Second Chance Greyhounds and hope that every other volunteer within the group feels the same way.  We have much to be proud of and much to be thankful for.  We achieved quite a bit during the first year and I expect we will continue to thrive in the years to come.  We have a great bunch of folks involved with Second Chance Greyhounds and a common goal - place Greyhounds into loving forever homes!!

I'd like to thank Heather, Kim and Guy, Amy and Robert, Brad, Scott, Tricia, Clif, Debbie and Dale, Michelle K., Julie, Kathy and Dave, Helen, Tina and Gary, Kim and Lyle, Nona, Melissa, Donna, Amy H., Norman and Sonjii, Linda M., Linda S., Michelle M., Pat, Margie, Terri, Wendy, Jackie, Jan, and ALL the volunteers who have helped in some way to make Second Chance Greyhounds what it is today!  And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't thank Alan and Linda Olson of Southern New England Kennels who train and take care of our Greyhounds before they retire from racing.  They continually provide us with the most awesome Greyhounds and for that we are grateful.  Also thanks to Melony Cleveland of the McGregor Greyhound Welfare Center at the Birmingham Race Course for her help and assistance in ensuring our Greyhounds are properly immunized and vetted prior to their departure from the track.  

We could not be where we are today without your involvement and support.  Indeed, it does take a village!!