Let me share with you a tail. It is an interesting story filled with intrigue, adversity, disappointment and triumph.
It begins a few months ago in the two greyhound rescue group town of Tucson, Arizona. Well, actually, one rescue group has slowed its adoption work to a trickle. So, let me rephrase that:
It begins a few months ago in the one and a quarter greyhound rescue group town of Tucson, Arizona.
I had noticed things starting to change with the primary greyhound adoption group, AGR, (Arizona Greyhound Rescue) late last year. In truth, it went back further than that, but it became quite noticeable around that time. That was when AGR stopped taking in dogs. The first time in its 17 year history. What? you ask. How can a greyhound rescue group go about fulfilling its mission statement and purpose of existence when it stops taking in dogs?
On December 24th an AGR newsletter was released indicating the president and treasurer had stepped down from the executive board (an appointed board – this is an important plot point later). 7 of the 11 board positions were vacant. The newsletter also indicated that AGR was going to be taking on a different focus in the greyhound rescue arena – training greyhounds to be service and therapy dogs. Though this is a noble idea, in reality, it’s not a very good one. We all know greyhounds are incredibly loving animals and very intelligent, but not many make good service dogs. (for reasons than I am going to go into now, that's another post.) I know, I know, there are some exceptions to the rule. I am friends with a woman in Tucson who has the most amazing greyhound service dog. And some make great therapy dogs; Bunny, for example. But the percentages of the population to do so are fairly low.
Anyway, I digress, as a result of this new focus, the AGR board determined they needed to restructure and “paused the intake of new dogs until the January board meeting”. Unfortunately, that date has been extended and I don’t believe dogs are currently being taken in still. Then a number other things happened that just didn’t seem like AGR was going in the right direction. It was going in the opposite direction; down. This was obvious to even me, a person on the fringe of the volunteers.
A separate group of individuals had been meeting in regards to their concern over the state of AGR and to discuss viable options to get back on track. A town hall meeting was called for January 14th and around 70 interested people attended, including myself. The one thing I noticed during the meeting was that the majority, if not everyone, attending were as frustrated as I was with the current state of AGR, the manner in which it was being run, the complete unwillingness of the board to be flexible, and what was not being done to help greyhounds. It was also apparent to me that the organizers of this meeting had really thought out possible scenarios and had developed strategies to get back to the business of helping greyhounds.
A plan of action was presented with the first option requesting the current board to resign, and have new members take over and return AGR to its past path. The current board has to voluntarily resign, as they are appointed positions, not elected. A letter requesting the resignation of the current AGR board signed by, what I believe, the majority of the individuals present would be sent to AGR. There was a backup plan if the current board declined to resign; a mass letter of resignation, signed by (again, I think) a majority of the attendees, was to be sent to AGR. I didn’t believe the letter of resignation would be necessary. Who in their right mind would ignore a letter signed by the majority of volunteers of your organization requesting a change?
Unfortunately and unfathomably to me, the resignation letter had to be sent.
The current AGR board replied to the request to step down: “We decline your request to have (names removed) step down from the Board of Directors of Arizona Greyhound Rescue. While we appreciate that you have indicated you will withdraw your support, please be aware that this decision was made after careful consideration and was unanimous. As the Board of Directors our duty is twofold: we must act in the best interest of the organization we represent and we must safeguard the greyhounds in our care. We firmly believe (names removed) are vital contributors to these duties.”
I won’t even go into what I think about that statement…
With the first option shot down, the second was put into play, which also did not pan out.
So on to plan C: start a new greyhound adoption organization from scratch. A second meeting was set for February 4th. During this meeting, I learned to my shock and pleased amazement, new by-laws had been drafted, a name had been chosen (Southern Arizona Greyhound Rescue), and an organizational structure had been developed. It was asked that suggestions and comments be made in regards to all the above items and people sign up to help. Pledges for financial support were requested (pledges because the organization wasn’t official yet and it was felt accepting money would be inappropriate). I realized that this organization was being developed with the foremost goal to help greyhounds, but in such a way that everyone who wanted to help could and the organization would do everything with integrity and open honesty. A refreshing change and much appreciated. I eagerly signed up to help and made my small monetary pledge.
I learned a few days later that the impossible and unthinkable was thinkable and possible. The initial pledges totaled $21,000 and 45 people signed up to volunteer for SA Greys. I am unabashedly proud to be part of this new group.
Since the meeting on the 4th, I’ve watched with awe as the legal paperwork has been filed, paperwork details required to start an organization filled out, the by-laws finished, the logo created, social media sites set up (facebook, twitter, flickr and a blog, with a website on the way), the first two events scheduled and entered and most importantly – the first greyhound for adoption taken in to the organization!
This goes to show you what is possible when there is a dedicated group of volunteers willing to fight for a cause near and dear to their hearts.
So I ask you to please follow this incredible group on facebook, twitter (@sa_greys), google +, flickr and of course a blog (where I got to lend a hand, you will notice a number of familiar greyhound images littering the pages) :) and please share the word. I think any support and/or help getting this organization up to full speed will be much appreciated. Thanks so much.