A new leash on life

The National Greyhound Adoption Program, a fixture in the Northeast since 1989, is on the forefront of greyhound adoption and care services.

Saving lives: The National Greyhound Adoption Program, at 10901 Dutton Road, rescues approximately 250 dogs annually. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTOS

Back in 1999, David Wolf told the Northeast Times his greyhound adoption program had plateaued, saving around 600 dogs a year when it was 9 years old. The greyhound movement was just beginning to get traction, and so was his nonprofit.

He was right. The National Greyhound Adoption Program has definitely slowed its pace since then, saving 250 dogs a year.

But they do so, so much more now.

Having relocated to 10901 Dutton Road in 2009, what began as six office trailers attached together has grown into a massive kennel and veterinary clinic.

“This is not a normal kennel,” said Wolf, founder of NGAP. It was around noon on a Thursday. “Listen.”

He was referring to the near-silence coming from the 40 or 50 greyhounds in the kennel. They live a very regimented life, waking up, playing outside and meeting potential adopters in the morning before resting between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. (They bark when you interrupt their quiet time.)

Wolf founded NGAP in 1989 when a vacation in Florida exposed him to the horrible living conditions of greyhounds forced to race in racetracks. Once the dogs stopped winning races, they were killed.

“Sometimes, their deaths are humane, but most times the dogs are either shot or electrocuted,” he said.

NGAP started by flying dogs up from Florida, which hosts the highest number of racetracks out of every state (there were approximately 60 tracks nationally in 1989, a number that has since dwindled to about 20, according to Wolf).

In its early years, the NGAP focused on adoption only, until Wolf decided it had outgrown the office trailers connected by walking planks. He purchased the massive building on Dutton Road and designed the inside along with his team.

This was a massive step that allowed the nonprofit to vastly increase the amount of services it offered. The building is also home to the Dutton Road Veterinary Clinic. The clinic is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week and treats all kinds of dogs and cats, though it offers dentistry operations specific to greyhounds.

Wolf is proud of the equipment the clinic utilizes, which includes state-of-the-art X-ray machines and even heated blankets for the animals’ comfort.

“We give the best care at the lowest possible price,” he said.

The nonprofit ships more than a million pounds of food a year to more than 200 rescue groups nationally, as well as exercise equipment like cat trees. In 2016, NGAP donated the highest amount of food in its history.

On a more local level, every customer leaves with two free bags of food. Sometimes, Wolf will give 80-pound bags to families in need.

“This is a working-class community, and food can be expensive,” he said. “Do you know what a difference a free bag of food can make?”

Wolf comes from a family of poodle lovers, though, of course, he has his own greyhound. Bebe is an Italian greyhound he and his wife adopted in 2009 when she was close to death. They suspect Bebe has organ damage, because for years they had to give her an appetite stimulant. She still has to be force-fed three times a day, though she seems to have a new “leash” on life.

“She’s smart as a whip, so even if she’s old she has quality of life,” Wolf said. “She knows when I’m going to work on weekends, and knows there’s a good chance she’s getting a ride.”

Bebe is also particular about the water she drinks, preferring to drink water that’s freshly poured.

NGAP is on the forefront of greyhound adoption agencies in the country, and its growth may be symbolic of the entire movement. There are now at least 27 other greyhound agencies in Pennsylvania alone, and there are approximately 300 in the country.

Wolf is glad to share the spotlight with them. His focus is on providing greyhounds and their owners with services they might not be able to find anywhere else.

Wolf encourages those interested in adopting a greyhound to come out to the agency, take a walk with the dogs and learn more about the breed. Visit NGAP.org to learn more. ••