INFESTED with hundreds of fleas, severely emaciated and so malnourished her teeth are rotting, Ruby is one of the worst cases of greyhound mistreatment Sharon Morgan has ever seen.
Like the other four volunteers at Greyhound Rescue NorthEast, the mum-of-three devotes her time to getting dogs who are often left to die back on their feet and into a loving home.
At her home in Columbia, Washington, she is caring for Ruby and Alfie.
The pair were picked up wandering in Durham two weeks ago on the brink of death. Ruby, 10, was so thin that every bone in her body was visible.
Sharon said: “I don’t know how they had any blood left, they were covered in so many fleas. You could see them walking up and down their legs and their skin was covered in scabs. They had just been left to die and were riddled with worms. Ruby was so malnourished that her teeth are rotting. She’ll probably lose them all soon.
“When I fed her she was so thin that she would vomit so I had to give her a spoonful every half hour like a baby.”
Indeed, all the 150 greyhounds Sharon has cared for in her four years as a rescue volunteer become like her babies.
She nurtures them back to good health and shows them the love and attention they crave until they are ready to be rehoused.
Though it’s a wrench to see them go, Sharon says there’s nothing like seeing a once mistreated dog finding a new, caring family.
“I usually worm them, deflea them, give them love and food. I usually have each one for about four months,” she said. “People say ‘do you not get attached?’ but if I kept them I wouldn’t be able to help any others.
“It’s the nicest feeling in the world seeing them get a new family.”
Dogs that are helped by the Sunderland-based charity are often found wandering the streets or are handed in by greyhound racing trainers who don’t want them any more.
Most are around four and have served their time on the racetrack.
Sharon said: “I don’t have anything against greyhound racing because the dogs absolutely love being on the track. It’s the way they are sometimes treated afterwards that I have the problem with.
“There are some good trainers who will ring us to pick up the dogs, but others just leave them to die or take them to be put down.”
Despite being bred for racing, Sharon says greyhounds make ideal pets.
“People have a misconception that they need lots of exercise,” she explained. “But that’s not true. They only need about two 20-minute walks a day. I have three kids and I have never had any problems with any of the greyhounds. They are a placid, loving breed. I never sit and watch TV at night without a greyhound on my lap.”
How you can help
GREYHOUND Rescue NorthEast is a self-funded charity which relies on volunteers and foster homes.
Though it has 47 greyhounds at its kennels in Wheatley Hill, it is not open for viewings. Instead, the charity prefers to match potential owners with individual dogs.
Sharon said: “People don’t get a true picture of the dogs that are in kennels, as they are barking and the ones that don’t get picked are often depressed.”
As well as looking for people to rehome dogs permanently, the charity is looking for foster homes who would be prepared to look after some of the dogs on a temporary basis.
To learn more about the charity and the dogs available for rehoming, visit www.greyhoundrescuenortheast.com or tel. 07716 557 876