by Diane Herbst
In 1991, Dennis Tyler's passion for Greyhounds began when he adopted Clara Voyant, a former track racing dog. His love grew stronger as he and his wife, Claire, realized how calm and loving she was. In obedience class, Clara aced all the commands. "She was incredible," says Tyler, 65, a retired mechanic who worked at the Kennedy Space Center. "That dog was the beginning."
When Tyler, of Melbourne, Florida, realized that thousands of Greyhounds at Florida tracks who could no longer race needed to be adopted or faced euthanization, he and Claire, 65, took action. "Looking at those faces and knowing they need to be adopted when they are done," says Tyler, "you get concerned."
Since then, the Tylers have found homes for over 7,000 Greyhounds, placing them Florida and all along the East Coast. Funded by donations, the couple's Greyhound Pets of America, Central Florida (www.www.floridagreyhounds.com) can take in up to 78 Greyhounds at two kennels they maintain at a track, provide them with any needed medical care as well as spaying and neutering.
In a specially-outfitted trailer that can hold up to 44 dogs, Claire and Dennis hit the open road 12 to 15 times a year and drive to Greyhound rescues as far north as Buffalo, New York and a whole host of states in between; the rescues then find good homes in their area for the pups. Tyler also visits many of the homes that adopts his dogs. "After a trip we're tired, dog tired," says Tyler. "You worry about problems along the way. It's very challenging, we're responsible."
The couple, who have two grown children, two of their own Greyhounds, and who recently celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary, are paid back for their tireless efforts by the dogs. "Seeing them getting into these homes," Tyler says, "they thank us enough."
Freekibble.com was so inspired by the work Dennis and Claire are doing that they made a donation of 10,000 meals of Halo Spot’s Stew to Greyhound Pets of America, Emerald Coast, in their name. "Greyhounds being abandoned by racetracks is a serious situation," says Freekibble's Kelly Ausland. "We're honored to be able to help Dennis and Claire with their lifesaving work."