About 40 displaced greyhounds are looking for comfortable bay area homes where they can while away their retirement years. The greyhounds are from a breeding farm in Dover, near Plant City, which closed for financial reasons. The owner, Anthony Diez, and his son turned the dogs over to the Humane Society of North Pinellas.
"They said they've gone broke and can't afford to feed the dogs," said Rick Chaboudy, director of the Humane Society.
As soon as the dogs arrived, Humane Society workers gave them a warm bath and a full meal.
"It looks like it's been a while since they got a good meal," Chaboudy said shortly after feeding the first dozen greyhounds, which arrived Friday. The owners brought in the rest of the dogs Saturday and Monday.
Diez said his farm's electricity and phone have been disconnected, and he is trying to sell the property. Diez leased the farm beginning in February 1989 and bought it in August.
"I just couldn't go on anymore," Diez said. He said he contacted the Humane Society of North Pinellas because his home is in Safety Harbor and because he had heard the society has a policy of trying to place the dogs rather than automatically putting them to death.
"I'm a big baby," Diez said. "I can't put dogs down."
The breeding farm raised dogs to racing age _ about 18 months _ and then placed them in racing kennels for the owners, Diez said. Most of the dogs brought to the Humane Society, however, are retired racers that Diez agreed to take from a company in Kansas.
The dogs, which range in age from 2 to 11, have been vaccinated and treated for ticks, ear mites and hookworms, Chaboudy said. The most serious affliction so far appears to be malnutrition.
"A couple are extremely thin _ they're in pretty bad shape," Chaboudy said. "Others would have been in pretty bad shape in another day or two. They all seem to be coming around pretty good."
Gary Guccione of the National Greyhound Association, a non-profit organization based in Abilene, Kan., said greyhounds make "loving, intelligent, friendly" pets. Because of the dogs' friendly disposition they're "not very good" as watchdogs, Guccione said.
Chaboudy said many of the dogs have lived in kennels all their lives and may go through an adjustment period. "People are going to have to be a little tolerant with them."
The dogs will not be placed in homes with children younger than 10, Chaboudy said. Also, greyhounds sometimes do not get along with small animals, such as rabbits, cats and birds.
People who want to adopt must own their property and have a fenced-in yard. The adoption fee is $50, which includes spaying or neutering, Chaboudy said. The dogs are not housebroken.
Kimberly Wyler, a member of the Tampa chapter of the National Greyhound Adoption Program, said the group has traced several of the greyhounds' original owners by calling in the dogs' ear tattoos to the National Greyhound Association.
The group will be contacting those people to see whether they want the dogs. If not, they will be put up for adoption.
People interested in adopting a greyhound can call the Humane Society at 797-7722 or stop in at 3040 State Road 590 in Clearwater.