Allies for Greyhounds based out of Michigan has been rescuing and finding homes for retired racing greyhounds since 2006. The organization mostly relied on fosters to house their adoptable dogs until they could find forever homes for them. The group had always dreamed of having a space large enough to house even more dogs, and to assist fellow rescue organizations in their area, but they just didn’t have the funds to make that dream a reality.
One of the organization’s volunteers, Melissa Siedenstrang, set out to change that by applying for a grant through the Petco Foundation. Melissa often researches grant opportunities, and is known for planning surprises. She didn’t let Allies for Greyhounds’ founders, Pat and Dave, know what she was up to.
In the meantime she went about working for the rescue the same way she’s done for the last five years. The group is dedicated to retired racing greyhounds, and takes the dogs in who don’t qualify for races anymore. “The dogs are transported from Florida to the Michigan/Indiana area,” Melissa explained. “Sometimes that can be rough on them, especially of the weather is hot. The idea behind building a kennel was so that we could house more dogs, and hopefully help cut down on the surplus of dogs in Florida needing groups to go to.”
Melissa is one of the organization’s fosters, and explained that there is never as much room as they’d like. “I typically have about 12 dogs at my house,” she said. “I get up early, take care of all the dogs, go to my regular full-time job, and then come home and start my work for the rescue.”
Her evenings, like those of many rescue volunteers, are spent responding to lots of emails, reviewing applications, making phone calls, and updating the Allies for Greyhounds website. Weekends are spent transporting dogs to adoption events and picking them up afterward. “There’s no day off,” she said.
A large, dedicated kennel space is something that the rescue’s founders, Pat and Dave Conrad, had always wanted, and when Melissa found out that they’d received a $47,000 grant from the Petco Foundation to make it a reality, she couldn’t wait to surprise everyone with the news.
“It’s been a dream for all of us to have a space where we could take more dogs from the track,” she said. “When I found out that we’d received the grant at the end of March, the first thing I had to do was make sure the news wasn’t sent to the rescue’s address! They had no idea that I’d been working on it.”
Melissa took the day off from work to attend the Michigan Pet Expo, where Pat and Dave were among the more than 50 rescues present alongside lots of vendors and attendees.
“I worked with another one of our volunteers and we drove over to the Expo to surprise Pat and Dave with the news. They both had tears in their eyes – it was a very cool moment, and they were both really excited.”
Construction of the kennel is now underway, and Allies for Greyhound expects to open its doors sometime in July. The rescue is looking forward to not only being able to house more retired greyhounds, but also assisting fellow rescue organization in their area with space to temporarily house their dogs.
“Greyhound rescue has had a glorious partnership with Petco for many, many years,” said Paul Jolly, Executive Director of the Petco Foundation. “Allies of Greyhounds represents all that is wonderful about the life-saving work these groups accomplish. Dedicated, compassionate, and driven to succeed; this group and the hundreds more like them that the Petco Foundation supports all over the United States, is making a true difference for a much maligned breed.”
“The Petco Foundation and the Petco stores that we’ve worked with for adoption events are very special to us,” said Melissa. “We have several stores in the Michigan and Indiana area who have just been great, and the team at the Mishawaka store in Granger, Indiana has been with us for five years. They’re absolutely wonderful.”
“We can’t thank the Foundation enough for everything they’ve done for us,” she added. “They’ve made all of this possible.”