My brother suggested a retired racing greyhound. I thought he was crazy. We lived in a row house in Philadelphia at the time and had no room for it to run. My brother told me that they didn't need room to run and that I needed to research the breed. I went to a meet and greet and saw ten sleeping greyhounds. That is when I knew this was the breed I was interested in adopting.
I applied to a local group to adopt and our application was approved. We welcomed Ringo, Sls Snow Digger, in April 2003. He was a truly amazing dog. I started to spend time with him and took him to meet and greets. I went to the adoption picnics and other events. He helped me to find myself again. If I wanted to talk, Ringo listened. If I wanted to cry, Ringo stayed with me. He became my therapy dog. He not only helped Mickey, he also helped me.
We adopted our second greyhound Bean, Maple Longshot, in August 2003. I saw him on a website and his eyes told me that he belonged in our family. In September 2003 Ringo's brother Doc, Sl's Dot Come On, was returned to the adoption group and we adopted him.
I spent the next eight months doing meet and greets with my boys to let everyone know not only how special this breed was, but how Ringo gave me my life back. I wanted everyone to know and feel the unconditional love, acceptance and compassion they had. How they could change your life and make it a better place.
In the end of May 2004 I decided that I owed the breed more than I was doing for them. I wanted to not just let people know about them, but be a part of helping people find their healing hound. To be a part of the joy adopting a retired racing greyhound brought to people. I asked my husband if it was okay with him to start an adoption agency. He was totally for it and we took in our first foster Adam, Jr's Thunder, from JCKC in Florida. My father, Ira, helped me set up a 501c3 to form Greyhound Angels Adoption and let me advertise in his cell phone store. Three weeks later, just when I was ready to pack it in and keep Adam, someone contacted me to adopt him. We placed our first greyhound on June 10, 2004.
We took in two more fosters. Started to do our own meet and greets at local shopping centers, Petsmart and Petco. Ira joined Harry and I at our events. He started showing the dogs, carrying and giving out information, put posters of available greyhounds in his store window, going with me to pick up dogs at the track, meeting haulers and doing adoptions. My father and I, who always had a rocky relationship, found something that brought us together, greyhounds. Again the breed made my life better.
Harry and I decided to sell our house and use the proceeds to help further the organization. We took the $36,000 and put it into Greyhound Angels Adoption and moved in with my father. We set up crates in the basement of his condo and took in fosters. We placed greyhounds out of his condo and store for quite sometime, and then we decided that opening a kennel was our next step. We wanted a place where people could come and spend time with the available greyhounds. To let people interact with the breed to see if it was the right breed for them.
We went to many townships in New Jersey, but very few would allow a kennel to open in their area. Then we found out that Pennsauken Township allowed kennels to exist in a light industrial zoned area. We found a 4800 square foot warehouse in the right zone and rented the space. Seabrook Greyhound Park, who we had been dealing with and taking retired racers from, donated seven six-pack crates and five four-pack crates to our new facility.
We opened our facility in Pennsauken in July 2006. Ira, Harry and I decided that we did not feel comfortable leaving the greyhounds alone in the warehouse, and the overhead was costly, so we decided that we would also move into the warehouse to be there for the greyhounds and be able to financially contribute anyway we were able. The three of us did every turnout, feeding, vet appointment, Adoption and every other aspect of the running of the organization. We were not allowed to have beds in the warehouse, because technically it was not a legal residence, so we slept on couches and chairs. There was very little to no privacy, but greyhounds were going to their furever homes and that is what kept us going.
The organization and the three of us lived in that 4800 square foot warehouse for the next eight years placing retired racing greyhounds. We got to meet some of the most unforgettable and wonderful hounds. It was not easy to live in a warehouse without any of the creature comforts of a home and there were times when you thought you couldn't do it one more day. But then late at night I would walk back in the kennel and look at all the sleeping greyhounds waiting for their families and it kept you going.
Due to the rising cost of housing the organization in a warehouse, we decided it was time to move on. In May 2014 we were fortunate enough to find a 35 acre farm in Millville, complete with an 18 stall horse barn and a house. We put out the call to our volunteer base and they answered in a huge way. They helped us transform that barn into a kennel, they fixed and installed fencing, they volunteered their electrical and plumbing skills, they painted, power washed, sealed, dug, planted and did all kinds of work to give Our Village a real home. It made us a stronger and bigger family, all coming together for the dogs.
In September 2016 an adopter contacted us to tell us that a friend of his passed away and left us money in her will. She had been so impressed with our organization and how we helped his greyhound when it was sick, that she wanted to help us. She left us $20,000. The three of us sat down and discussed the agency's options. We could continue to rent the farm, but according to our lease we are responsible for all repairs to the property and it had already cost us a lot of money in repairs. Or we could look for Our Furever Home and give Greyhound Angels Adoption the future we all worked so hard to give it. A place that when our time on this earth ended, the organization could live on.
So we started looking at farms in our area. Our bank, Millville Savings approved us for a $200,000 mortgage at 20% down. We put out the call and through fund raising and donations we were able to raise another $24,000. We found a farm and put in an offer. It was accepted and we went into contract. When our bank did the assessment for the mortgage, it came up $23,000 short of the agreed upon sale price. Our bank was unable to mortgage it for more than it was worth and we had to walk away.
Then we found another farm in our price range that was in foreclosure. We went to our bank to get a mortgage commitment letter to put in an offer. There had been a change in bank managers and we were informed that we were considered a commercial mortgage and they would need 30% down. At this point the train was rolling and there was no looking back. We put in our offer. Two days later we found out that they accepted a lower offer for cash.
Now we had to regroup. We realized that farms in our price range were not only attractive to our organization, but were also very attractive to other buyers who had more flexibility than we did. We decided that buying a property for less money and putting up a pole barn ourselves was a better plan. Once we changed our strategy, we were immediately back in the game.
We found 2688 S. Black Horse Pike in Williamstown (Monroe Township), NJ within two weeks. Nine acres for events and parking, security fencing, camera system, office/store structure already there and cleared flat land for Our pole barn. We put in an offer and held our breath. They accepted our offer of $145,000 and we are officially waiting for settlement.
However at 30% down, we are out of funds. This leaves us $500 for deposit on our construction loan, septic work, well water tie in, fencing materials for turnout and play areas, plumbing and electrical materials, etc. We have amazing volunteers in Our Village who are ready, willing and able to provide their skilled and not so skilled labor to see this project through to completion for the dogs. We just need help raising the funds necessary to put these wonderful people to work and give Greyhound Angels Adoption its own Furever Home.
Please help and share.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE!! Hug those hounds.
- Joe D'Imperio
- Mariaelena Pastuszek
- Nannette DImperio
- Leslie & Leon Machinist
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