SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As a foster parent, Terry Halleck has taken in the unwanted, unloved and uncared for. She has also known the satisfaction – and heartache – of sending off her temporary guests to good homes, where they can start new and better lives. The thanks she gets is usually a lick on the face and a wag of the tail. It’s been that way ever since 1995, when Halleck first got involved with rescuing greyhound racing dogs. She has been a “foster parent” to 15 dogs so far and currently has four greyhounds of her own. I’ve always been a dog lover,” said Halleck, president and chief executive officer of The Golden 1 Credit Union headquartered here. “I’ve always had a dog.” Halleck first got involved with greyhounds through Hollydogs, a non-profit organization in Hollywood, Fla., that tries to find homes for greyhounds that no longer are used for racing. Numerous other groups nationwide also work to find homes for thousands of greyhounds who have either ended their racing careers – usually around 3 1/2 to 4 years of age – or which were bred but never showed racing promise. Greyhounds have a lifespan of up to 15 years. “Every year, the (greyhound racing) industry breeds tens of thousands of greyhounds, more than it can place at racetracks. This overbreeding is motivated by the desire to produce `winning’ dogs,’” according to the Humane Society of the United States. “Thousands of greyhounds at each track are disposed of yearly to bring in a `fresh’ group of dogs.” Estimates on the number of greyhounds destroyed each year range from 19,000 to 60,000. The first time she glimpsed the dogs needing to be rescued at Hollydogs, Halleck was sold. She and her husband, who had been in Florida attending separate conference, ended up flying back home to Maryland with a greyhound named Gracie Sue. “That started it,” said Halleck, who came to California in October 2002. “That was it. It’s like one potato chip. You can’t just have one.” Halleck’s goal since then has been to serve as a “foster parent” to greyhounds, caring for them and helping to rehabilitate them, until they can be adopted into someone’s home. “They are wonderful animals, just wonderful,” she said. “Like any breed, they have varying personalities, but in general they’re very very loving. It’s almost as if they know they’ve been saved.” – [email protected]

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