Czech charity helps save unwanted racing greyhounds from Ireland

Photo: Greyhounds in Need

A few hours of browsing the web changed Lucie Poučova’s life forever. After accidentally coming upon a site reporting on the fate of unwanted racing greyhounds in Ireland she decided to get involved and now runs an animal welfare organization dedicated to re-homing unwanted greyhounds from Ireland and Spain with families in the Czech Republic.

Photo: Greyhounds in Need
Greyhounds in Need was set up in the spring of 2010 and Lucie recalls how it all came about.

“ I have always been fond of animals –dogs, cats, and even farm animals at my granny’s home in the country. Once I was looking at a cat site and happened to come upon a link to this greyhound web page which alerted animal lovers to the fate of unwanted racing greyhounds in Ireland. The information and pictures came as a huge shock. I arranged to adopt one of those unwanted greyhounds and soon I realized I wanted to save more than just this one dog.”

The Czech Republic is a nation of dog-lovers and although operating on a tight budget the Greyhounds in Need charity organization has helped save close to 200 greyhounds. She and her friends operate a website and make monthly visits to Ireland to bring back greyhounds who would otherwise be put down. While a greyhound’s life expectancy is 13 to 14 years ex-racing greyhounds in Ireland generally live three to four years before being cast off or put down. Lucie explains that under Irish law greyhounds are regarded as something akin to farm animals.

Lucie Poučová,  photo: Honza Ptáček
“Of course the Irish like animals – they have household pets just like we do but they do not regard greyhounds as pets. People have dogs but with very small exceptions they do not chose greyhounds. Which means that only a tiny fraction of racing greyhounds find a home once they are considered past their prime – which is at age 3 or 4. The rest are either put down professionally or killed far more brutally. And if they do manage to get into a dog shelter the chance of someone taking them home is practically nil. Their only chance is getting adopted in a foreign country – Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands or the Czech Republic. There are many organizations like ours on the Continent. ”

The number of greyhounds in need of new homes in Ireland alone is staggering .Every year around 5,000 greyhounds are taken off the racing course because they are no longer in top form and their fate hangs in the balance. Animal rights activists and welfare groups from around Europe do their best to save as many as they can. Lucie says that they bring over as many dogs as they can find new homes for – and sometimes more if they hear of a dog in danger of being put down. She explains how it works.

“The way it usually works is that the greyhounds arrive and their adoptive families are ready and waiting for them. All the arrangements are made in advance. We are in contact with the people who have expressed interest in taking in a greyhound, we explain what it will entail, what the dogs needs are and then visit their home to check up on the surroundings. We take into consideration whether they have children, whether they work away from home and so on. We try to make an ideal match.”

Adoptive families make a one-off payment of 4.500 crowns which is not the price of the greyhound but goes to cover the cost of transport from Ireland and veterinary care. Anything left over goes to cover the organizations operational costs –such as phone calls to Ireland – and publicity in order to spread word about the need for more adoptive families. In many cases families who adopt one greyhound find the dog such an intelligent and amiable companion that they often call and register for another. Lucie whose family of greyhounds has grown to six says that they are gentle and loving creatures.

“In many ways these dogs are like any other you would adopt from a local dog shelter. We do not always know the dog’s history and what the animal has been through so you have to work on building up trust. In the case of our greyhounds you may find that they are not housetrained –never having lived with people - but they are very intelligent animals and are very quick to learn. And I must say they are extremely loving. They make these funny “singing” sounds when they greet you and click they teeth when they are happy or anticipating a walk. It is simply their way of expressing pleasure.”

Marie Hackerova adopted a greyhound from Ireland a year ago and she says she has never regretted the decision.

“I learned about this help programme quite by accident – I happened to pick up a leaflet in a doctor’s waiting room – and I was quite horrified to find was happening to these beautiful animals. I immediately thought to myself –you have got to do a good deed here. And despite already having two dogs I asked to get a greyhound. She is absolutely wonderful and I don’t think we are going to leave it there – I think we’ll get another one next year to give her a companion. ”

The organization Greyhounds in Need has a website and is on Facebook. If you would like to help its endeavor –either by adopting a dog or in some other way you will find more information in Czech, English and German at

Photo: Greyhounds in Need