Rome track was declared bankrupt on May 24th 2002 with 370 Irish greyhounds stranded, most of them elderly, retired males. The news came to us from Elizabeth Barton in Arezzo and Elisa Manna of the Greyhound Adopt Centre Italy, a young adoption group for whom these huge numbers of dogs were overwhelming. We put out a number of pleas in several languages over the internet to every declared greyhound rescue group in Europe asking for help.
- June 10th ‘If every group were to take between 10-30 dogs either into an asylum or into homes, we all might be a little nearer solving this massive problem’… ’Please would you let Elisa know …’
- June 28th ’We would like to stress please, that this operation needs to be jointly shared ’
- July 18th ‘As you know, we have asked that all greyhound rescue groups share in this huge operation of transporting and homing the dogs so that the burden does not fall on one group alone’
The following associations responded with offers of adoption and finally, the following dogs were relocated as follows: Italy (130+), GIN Germany (111+2 later), New Graceland Switzerland (30), Levriers en Detresse France (55), and UK (27).
We were lucky that twenty-three dogs already had British pet passports prepared by the track manager during the previous year.
This was far from an easy exercise due to the politics of the situation in Rome, the confusion over who was the rightful owner of the dogs when the company fell into the hands of Receivers and pressures from various other agents in Italy who became involved.
The dogs were held under blockade for an uncertain period, ultimately extending to four months, May-September 2002, while we tried to keep our tentative arrangements for the dogs in northern Europe open, with no assurance that we would even finally get the dogs.
Finally in mid September, we were given only short notice and just 10 days to move all the dogs out between October 1st-10th ,which became a logistical nightmare. To add even more difficulties, in spite of the fact that most of the dogs had been idle in those kennels, some for as many as 10 years, Rome City Council suddenly demanded, just days before their exit, that they all be sterilised.
We succeeded in persuading the authorities that surgery was unwise at this late stage and should be postponed until after transportation, and instead certificates of neutering or exemption thereof, had to be produced from the various countries to RCC within 90 days of arrival. These were satisfactorily presented the following January 2003.
Thanks are due to Elisa, Chiara and Manlio in Italy, Ellen Poppendick of GIN Germany and 27 Tierheims in Germany, especially the drivers from Munich and Feucht Tierheims, Catherine Madry of Levriers en Detresse France, Evelyne Bader and Suzy Utzinger of New Graceland Switzerland and the team from Uk mentioning especially Laura and Dean Weatherley who helped with the transport, and Hazel Charlwood of the Society of Greyhound Veterinarians who offered her veterinary services in Rome at the time of embarkation.
Well, the pictures tell the rest of the story!