Greyhound Crossroads, a Greenwood-based nonprofit focused on retired racetrack Greyhound adoption, is stretching its paws to another country -- Spain.
On April 11, three Spanish Galgos named Centurion, Greta and Lillian will travel from Spain to the Lakelands.
Galgos are sight hounds, like Greyhounds, but they are a distinct breed.
Greyhound Crossroads director Kim Owens said Galgos are hunting dogs and are typically disposed of when they are no longer of use in Spain. From hanging them from trees to throwing them down wells to setting them loose to survive on their own, Owens said tens of thousands of Galgos die each year at the end of the hunting season, which lasts about four months.
She said different cultures treat animals different ways.
While rescue groups in Spain are trying to bring awareness of the Galgos' plight to people's attention, Scooby North America will start to fly batches of Galgos over to the United States to Greyhound Crossroads.
Owens said the dogs will fly with a flight patron in a climate controlled hold from Spain to Chicago O'Hare International Airport before coming to the Lakelands to be adopted and fostered. The dogs will have their own Spanish passports complete with a list of vaccinations and photos.
Owens said the Galgos will receive the same care and support the group's retired racing Greyhounds are given, and the group will continue its Greyhound adoption work it has been doing for 19 years.
Groups of Galgos will arrive about every month or two.
Galgos tend to be smaller and more resourceful than Greyhounds, which Owens called "45 mph couch potatoes." Owens said Galgos are active but not hyper and quirky and playful.
She said Galgos are conditioned to survive on their own while Greyhounds are domesticated and highly socialized.
Owens said Galgos are "amazingly resilient" regarding their situation and being flown around the world to become a pet.
As the dog is changing everything it knows, Owens said potential Galgo owners need to remember the dog is taking a leap of faith by being brought to the United States to be a family pet, and the dog will need a longer time to learn rules than the average dog because of their situation.
Owens said Galgos need four things: an active family who likes to walk or jog, a family who wants an active dog, a fence that is more than 6 feet tall and a family who wants an indoor dog. She said they tend to get along with other dogs as they are natural pack dogs.
Meg Davis, Abbeville Area Medical Center Foundations director and Greyhound owner, said it shocked her to learn about the differences in how animals are treated in the United States opposed to other countries.
"It's great that Greyhound Crossroads is branching out because this is another breed that needs our help and making sure that they have wonderful, loving homes," she said.
An owner of two Greyhounds, Jeff and Oscar, Owens and her husband will foster Centurion when he arrives. Owens said they have been learning Spanish phrases to help Centurion, but she is not used to a dog who "does not speak my language."
Owens said Galgos are always looking for their next adventure and coming to the Lakelands is on the agenda for some of them.
For information about Galgos and Greyhound Crossroads, visit greyhoundcrossroads.com or email Owens at email@example.com.
Contact Mary Kate McGowan at 864-223-1812 or follow her on Twitter @IJMKMcGowan.