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Racing Dog Rescue Project holding adopt-a-thon

MANATEE — Connie is a 3-year-old greyhound who wasn’t a star on the dog racing circuit.

In fact, after just a handful of races, it was obvious this pretty, brindle-colored canine wasn’t keen on beating her competitors trying to catch a cloth rabbit.

About a year ago, Connie was given to Manatee County’s Racing Dog Rescue Project, the nonprofit organization that began 15 years ago with a mission to rescue dogs from the racing industry and provide them with a permanent home.

Connie will be among 30 dogs that can be seen during Racing Dog Rescue’s first greyhound adopt-a-thon from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Racing Dog Rescue Project’s new kennel at 1801 Verna Road, nine miles east of Interstate 75 in East Manatee.

Perspective owners won’t actually be able to adopt and take home the dogs Saturday, but they can fill out applications and get to know the dogs, said Rescue Project volunteer Craig Cerreta.

Adopting a greyhound from the Rescue Project costs $275. Included in that fee is a teeth cleaning, shots, a spay or neuter and a microchip to track the dog if it gets lost, Cerreta said.

Contrary to some perceptions, greyhounds do not need lots of space for running, said Rescue Project volunteer Nancy Faris, who has been a volunteer for 12 years.

Greyhounds make excellent condo or apartment dogs because, after a racing career, they mostly enjoy lounging and sleeping, Faris said.

“They are the most loving, thankful dog that exists,” Faris said. “They are very mellow, very quiet and rarely bark. When they are out racing it’s totally different, but in a home they totally mellow out.”

“Connie loves people,” said Cerreta, who has four of his own greyhounds and has been fostering Connie during the past cold spell.

“She’s a dog who wants to be near people all the time. She’s inquisitive. She’s a very healthy girl. She weighs 78 pounds, almost 20 pounds more than most female greyhounds.”

One of the reasons for the adopt-a-thon is that 2009 was a tough year for the Rescue Project, Cerreta said.

“It is directly related to the economy,” Cerreta said, referring to the Rescue Project’s 30 dogs adopted last year, one of the lowest totals ever and well below the 70-dog goal.

“People say, ‘I would love to adopt a dog, but I can’t risk having a $500 vet bill,’ ” Cerreta said. “That’s really a good decision. If you can’t afford the vet, it’s the responsible thing to do to not adopt the animal.”