Walking into the stuffy barn on the rural fringe of Sarasota, the scent of dog was as unmistakable as it was powerful. Adjusting to the musky surroundings proved fairly easy, though, as one was quickly (and adorably) greeted by a host of curious, elongated faces and wagging tails.
Such was the setting of the open house held on Monday, Mar. 25 by the Sarasota Racing Dog Rescue Project (RDRP). The RDRP is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization operating in the Florida counties of Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto. Its website, www.rdrp-greyhound.org, states that they are “dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and finding adoptive homes for retired racing Greyhounds,” which are described as “very intelligent, adaptable dogs … [that are] eager to please and respond positively to any attention given to them.” Visitors at the open house had the chance to gauge these qualities for themselves, interacting with the dozen or so greyhounds available for adoption.
According to Sue Redfield, the President of the RDRP Board of Directors, the purpose of the open house was to open the Sarasota facility to the public and spread local awareness for the RDRP, which she said rescues all of its dogs from the dog racing track on University Parkway. “We’re really looking for people who can help us fundraise,” Redfield told the Catalyst. Volunteers can also foster greyhounds (temporary adoption, used in circumstances such as the dog being sick or the adopter being unable to provide a permanent home), help match dogs to potential homes and provide dogs with transportation to veterinarians.
Redfield also noted that demand for volunteers is especially high in the time leading up to RDRP’s annual Homecoming Picnic and Fundraiser, an event typically held in November. The picnic functions largely as a get-together for local volunteers and greyhound enthusiasts, and, like the open house, also serves to promote awareness for the RDRP’s cause. “Everyone brings their dogs,” Redfield said with a smile. “It’ll be the most greyhounds you’ve ever seen in one place.”
“RDRP is a fantastic organization spearheaded by volunteers who truly understand the greyhound breed and the special needs of retired racing dogs,” Thesis student and RDRP volunteer Elizabeth Bennett, who attended the open house, said. “New College students can help most by donating blankets, toys, food and treats … RDRP would like to have a climate-controlled kennel in the foreseeable future so that the greyhounds can stay comfortable during both the summer and winter months.”
The open house provided resources for current dog owners as well as potential adopters and volunteers. A pair of tables featured a variety of greyhound-related merchandise, including RDRP T-shirts, guides for raising greyhounds, calendars, collars (which are specially designed, as greyhounds’ heads are narrower than their necks), first aid kits, and dog raincoats and fleeces. Just outside the barn, several people (many wearing the aforementioned RDRP shirts) gathered in clusters to chat, their four-legged friends at their sides.
For more information on the RDRP, volunteering or adopting, visit www.rdrp-greyhound.org.