19 May 2008

Greyhound Enthusiasts Hound Kanab

You know it is spring in Kanab when there are blossoms on the trees, water flowing in the streams and greyhounds roaming the streets, as they were this weekend.

More than 225 of the sleek racing dogs and their human companions descended on the southern Utah city to participate in the ninth annual Greyhound Gathering that ended Sunday. Beginning Friday, the greyhounds, and those who love them, participated in a parade, had nails trimmed and microchips implanted, raced against people and held auctions of items including greyhound sculptures, travel bags and even a bronze of a hound lying on an antique ink well.

During Saturday's parade, many of the the dogs were dressed in human finery, ranging from sombreros to costumes of Canadian Mounties, vying for best costume honors. During the three-day event, the dogs and their owners also celebrated "yappy" hour and dinner at Best Friends Animal Society, five miles north of Kanab, and attended workshops on how to train and socialize the hounds.

Proceeds from the auctions, which Presto said are expected to raise $20,000, goes to support Almost Home for Hounds, a kennel at Colorado State University that helps greyhounds find human families through 10 adoption groups across the country.

Heather Weir, a veterinarian who runs the kennel and teaches animal surgery at CSU, attended the weekend gathering in Kanab after delivering 20 dogs for adoption in California. She said the kennel cares for 50 to 60 greyhounds at a time and that money raised in the event's annual auctions is instrumental in operating the facility that opened in 2005. "We couldn't do it without help from this gathering," said Weir.

While incidents of greyhounds being abused are fewer, Weir said, incidents of malnutrition, untreated injuries and dogs being killed when they can no longer race continue. That is why events like the Greyhound Gathering are important for bringing the plight of the racing dogs to the public's attention. "This is a lot of fun," Weir said. "It's nice to see people enjoying their dogs."

[Source: The Salt Lake Tribune]