WESTFIELD, NJ - The Westfield Armory went to the dogs last weekend.
The 16th Annual Greyhound Friends of New Jersey Craft Show and Pet Expo took place Nov. 19 and 20. Greyhound Friends of New Jersey is a non-profit organization that helps retired greyhounds find homes. Many times after a greyhound's racing days are over the dog is destroyed, mostly because there are not enough homes for all of them.
Greyhound Friends of New Jersey is an offshoot of Greyhound Friends of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Greyhound Friends of New Jersey was begun by Al and Barbara Wicklund of Somerset. The Wicklunds adopted a retired greyhound named Champ in 1987 from Greyhound Friends of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Greyhound Friends of New Jersey now holds fund raising events throughout the year to help find caring homes for greyhounds and to increase public awareness about their plight.
The Wicklunds retired in 2006 but there are many volunteers and a network of foster homes in the tri-state area. A greyhound's racing career is short, lasting only about 2-3 years. Some of the racers suffer broken legs and other health issues during their time on the track. The dogs are sent to boarding kennels and foster homes until a permanent home is found for them. During that time they are treated for their injuries and learn to live around people and other animals.
"I began this craft show fund raiser 16 years ago in a church hall," said Lynda Lyman, president of the Greyhound Friends of New Jersey commented. More volunteers means the organization has been able to expand since then, and they now adopt out about 300 greyhounds a year.
"They come to us from various tracks throughout the country, usually Florida," Lyman said. "Greyhound races have been outlawed in some states. Citizens in certain areas have voted to end the races but in states such as Florida, Alabama, West Virginia and in some states out west they still have greyhound races. Greyhound racing is a business and dogs that don't make money for their owners are gotten rid of."
Lyman said she has many contacts who work with greyhound racetracks and they call her when there are dogs who need homes. She estimates she gets calls every two weeks.
She got involved with the greyhound rescue effort when she first saw one of the sleek, lithe dogs being walked in her neighborhood 16 years ago. She now owns several greyhounds and raised her two daughters with the canines. She said greyhounds in general are good with children.
The Craft Show and Pet Expo let visitors see the greyhounds that were available for adoption. It also featured everything from jewelry to pet food, grooming supplies and toys.
JL Media, Inc., Red Bank Veterinary Hospital and Verizon Fios were among the sponsors of this year's event. Even Santa stopped by to have his picture taken with visiting greyhounds.
For more Information about adopting a greyhound, or how to become a volunteer with Greyhound Friends of New Jersey, is available at www.greyhoundfriendsnj.org.