Oct 2018
Four-legged Speedsters
After the races, a new life for discarded racing greyhounds
There is a tradition in Ireland that has been attracting curious and bettors for almost a century: greyhound races. Introduced around 1920, they are an evolution of coursing - historically practiced by the nobility - that became a working class sport in the late 19th century. The betting world is the driving force behind greyhounds breeding and export, fields where Ireland is a world leader. According to the GRAI (Greyhound Rescue Association Ireland), almost 18,000 greyhound puppies were born in 2012 alone and over 10,000 of them disappeared leaving no trace. When the animal - considered as livestock, not a pet - is not fit for running or too old for that, it becomes a useless burden. To save greyhounds unfit for racing, numerous associations were recently born in several countries. Thanks to the precious support of some Irish people who persuade the owners not to have the dogs killed (and to be sent to rescue centers), these associations manage to find them adoptive families. A world, managed mainly by women, striving to give a chance to animals that spend their lives between cages and stadiums, sometimes doped and drugged to give their best.

A greyhound race at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium, in Dublin. Greyhounds usually complete a 525 yards (480 m) in less than 29 seconds, at an average speed of 63 km/h and with peaks of 70 km/h

Angela and Sofia, 3-year-old twins, play in their mountain house above Bergamo with Oliver and Beth, the Irish greyhounds adopted by their grandmother Romana

A man checking greyhound races results in Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium, in Dublin

Kate Donohue, 34, owner of Ireland's only grooming shop specialized in sighthounds, takes her dogs for a walk in a park in Dublin

The family of Monica and Alessandro, in their home in Milan with Erin and Byron, the greyhounds they have adopted from Ireland

The Newbridge stadium, about 50 km from Dublin, just before a greyhound race

TPetra, a Swedish woman who lives in Ireland, with two greyhounds she has saved from being killed. Petra is one of the volunteers who collaborate with many associations in other countries to encourage the adoption of greyhounds

A family follows the greyhound races during St. Patrick's Day. The stadium managers are aiming at this kind of clients, to increase their customer base

Dogs waiting to be adopted in the kennels of Alison and Nick, an Irish couple who helps saving greyhounds in County Tipperary

Daniela, 58, paints in her studio in Milan together with one of the greyhounds she has adopted

Fiona, 58, loads some rescued dogs from her rescue center Wicklow Animal Welfare on Michael's van, to be taken to their adoptive families in the UK

The home of Patricia and John, a retired irish couple who decided to help rescue greyhounds as volunteers in County Tipperary, shows their love for dogs

The start of a greyhound race at the Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium in Dublin

Camilla, 29, and Mikaela, 40, volunteers from the GACI (Greyhound Adopt Center Italy), explain to the children in an elementary school in Como area the situation of greyhounds in Ireland, and what is done to save them

Chance, a lurcher affected by mange, in Wicklow Animal Welfare, Ireland. Fiona, the rescue center owner, saved him from being suppressed. The lurchers are offspring of a sighthound mated with another breed, and they're often used for clandestine races

Cristian, 41, and Rayne, the greyhound he adopted from Ireland in 2016, by a lake in Brianza, Italy

An adopter refreshes his dog with water. Greyhounds are used to the cool Irish climate, and they can get tired easily in Italian summer weather

Sarah, 34, holds a lurcher affected by mange and fungal infection. The dog is being treated in PAWS Animal Rescue Ireland, where Sarah works

Betting tickets on a table in the Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium restaurant, in Dublin

Elisa, 46, and Antonio, 54, GACI (Greyhound Adopt Center Italy) volunteers check the greyhounds arrived from Ireland, before giving them up for adoption

Greyhound adopters dine together in Modena, the evening before the XV national GACI (Greyhound Adopt Center Italy) meeting

Giancarlo, 64, a GACI (Greyhound Adopt Center Italy) adopter, in his personal museum where he collected numerous works related to greyhounds in Art and History

The statue of Mick The Miller, in Killeigh, Ireland. Mick was one of the strongest greyhounds in history, and won numerous races between 1928 and 1931, in Ireland and England

Eileen, 48, and Alison, 48, with a greyhound saved from racing and awaiting adoption at Alison's farm, in County Tipperary

Unofficial bookmakers collecting bets near the Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium (Dublin), before each race

The GACI (Greyhound Adopt Center Italy) adopters celebrating their XV national meeting in Modena

Two greyhound owners carefully wash their dogs' paws after a race. If sand dry up between the fingers, it can cause serious irritations, which would compromise the animal performance

Some greyhound owners take their dogs for a walk in Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium, before the race

Fiona, 58, at the vet in County Wicklow with Chance, the lurcher she saved from suppression

Brendan's van, returning from Modena after bringing the greyhounds for adoption to Italy

Unofficial bookmakers check the greyhounds weight variations before every race, in the Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium

Mauro, 46, and Alessandro, 59, with their dogs Eragon and Fiaba. Eragon, suffering from osteosarcoma (a disease that affects racing greyhounds), died a few weeks after the photo was taken

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