When faced with the reality of animal abuse, David Wolf, an already successful real estate investments owner, could have walked away. Instead Wolf put his passionate foot forward and took on a venture that would save thousands of greyhound’s lives.
The National Greyhound Adoption Program was established as a nonprofit organization in 1989 in Philadelphia. Wolf discovered the horrors of the greyhound racing industry just as he was about to slow down his life and spend time in Florida with his wife. After having a dinner conversation with a greyhound race organizer, it was revealed to him that the dogs’ fate was ultimately uncertain after their racing prime had ended.
According to NGAP’s official website, greyhounds are generally euthanized – if not either put up for adoption or taken in by greyhound rescue programs – using the least expensive methods possible. Because profit is the bottom line within the industry, reports of gunshot, starvation and even bludgeoning have surfaced. Wolf saw this as a call to action.
“I thought about that when I returned home and then back to Hollywood, Fla. in November,” Wolf said. “I had a plan and the plan was that we would come to Florida and when we returned we would take greyhounds back with us for adoption.”
Wolf said he began organizing adoptions on the fly as early as 1990, and provided adopters with their greyhounds at the airport upon landing. After negotiating deals with Midway Airlines and then US Airways, Wolf had flown 2000 greyhounds both from Florida and out to areas all over the U.S.
The relocation of the NGAP headquarters in 2009 brought Wolf and company to the Northeast on Dutton Road. The facility boasts several amenities and services, Including greyhound boarding and adoption, as well as a robust greyhound clinic that specializes in dental care.
“Greyhounds are a completely different breed,” said veterinary tech student and NGAP volunteer Samantha Fritz. “Greyhounds bleed easier and they can’t get certain anesthesia. So, with them, the medicine has to change.”
Now, Wolf’s personal focus has zoomed in on the organizations that have attacked the well-being of greyhounds outside the racing circuit. In 2004, Wolf and NGAP confronted the Animal Medical Center, one America’s largest veterinarian facilities located in New York City. It was discovered by NGAP that AMC housed a captive greyhound blood bank within its building.
According to NGAP, greyhounds are ideal candidates for blood donation, because many of them have a universal blood type. While open blood donation programs exist, such as the University of Pennsylvania’s blood mobile, captive blood bank facilities like those within AMC are made possible through misrepresentation. Owners of retired racing greyhounds sometimes donate their dogs to adoption agencies, but without specific permission from the owners, the dogs are instead sent to blood banks, kenneled in unsanitary living conditions and frequently drawn for blood.
After an investigation by Wolf and his colleagues, Wolf said, “I was appalled at I saw. I looked at the dogs’ [in the blood bank facility] mouths and every one had periodontal disease. You could easily clean their teeth. No blood donors should have tooth-related issues that would mitigate the quality of the blood that’s being taken from their body.”
With the help of some of the adoption program’s volunteers, Wolf said he was able to save some of the greyhounds and expose AMC’s blood bank program.
“We went there in a van with three cages and brought [three of] the dogs back here,” Wolf said. “We changed their names and released them for adoption.”
After notifying the New York City medical center that he was aware they had received the dogs through misrepresentation with the help of Grateful Greyhounds, an adoption agency based out of Babylon, NY, AMC ceased all communication with NGAP. It is unknown whether AMC has released the greyhounds for adoption, and Wolf said AMC refuses to send any greyhounds to NGAP’s Northeast Philadelphia facility.
Wolf said his current targets are blood banks known as Hemopet, located in California, and The Pet Blood Bank in Texas. As of May 24, NGAP’s battle with Hemopet specifically is far from over. Wold said NGAP has reason to believe that Hemopet’s 175 greyhound donors were acquired illegally through misrepresentation.
After lengthy e-mail exchanges between Wolf, a representative of Hemopet, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Attorney General of California, NGAP is currently at a standstill. With nothing much else to do, NGAP is searching for people who have adopted from either Hemopet or the Pet Blood Bank to inform them that their dog was originally a blood donor in a captive blood bank.
While he said that NGAP accepts many forms of donations “from buildings to cars and more,” it’s primarily Wolf’s success in the industrial real estate business that has made NGAP into the tremendously effective facility it is today. According to Wolf, some of the organization’s employees are actually paid on the Wolf Investment payroll.
“Many Wolf employees work primarily in the National Greyhound Adoption Program,” Wolf explained. “We wouldn’t be nearly as successful if not for Wolf Investments.”
As Wolf continues his efforts in greyhound advocacy, he hopes to further NGAP’s impact through a brand new surgical facility set to launch in 2010.
Joe Osborne and Laura D’Alfonso are journalism students in Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods class, which is designed to allow students to cover under-reported areas of Philadelphia.