Greyhounds Rescue Belgium

by violalecompte

Today we have a talk with Hervé Marysael, President of the organization Greyhound Rescue Belgium. They do fantastic work finding homes for retired racing dogs (greyhounds), and abandoned Spanish hunting dogs (Galgo’s).

If you are considering adopting a dog, or are specifically looking for a sight hound, I highly recommend you have a look at the dogs up for adoption, on the website of Greyhound Rescue Belgium. Impossible to resist these majestic looking creatures…


Can you introduce yourself and the organization Greyhounds Rescue Belgium? When and why did you start this initiative?
Greyhounds Rescue Belgium is a charity that was founded by the former President: Josephine Van Den Bergh, in December 1999. She was very touched by a documentary on National Geographic showing a mass grave of greyhounds in the USA.  In 2006 I joined the charity as Webmaster. Since 2011 November 1st, I became President and I continue the work of the founder.

Are all of the greyhounds that are up for adoption retired racing dogs from Ireland?
Mostly from Ireland. England is possible too.

Why are there so many of them up for adoption? Is it a standard procedure to re-home ex-racing dogs?
It looks good when they try to re-home some greyhounds.

What happens to the retired dogs that don’t get adopted, do they automatically get euthanized?
Approximately 15.000 greyhounds are killed – destroyed –  every year in Ireland and England. The same happens in USA, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam and Macau.


Can you describe what the life of a racing dog looks like?
You can find this information on the internet on different websites and on several movies on YouTube:
YouTube – On the Line Cradle to Grave (part 1 of 2)
YouTube – On the Line Cradle to Grave (part 2 of 2) 

You also have Spanish Galgo’s up for adoption. Why are so many of them in need of new homes?
The Galgo español is used for hunting. The hunting season starts around September-October. No galgero (hunter) has a Galgo español which is older than 3-4 years old. They are killed, destroyed in a cruel way when the hunting season ends in February. It is called the most cruel month of the year for the Galgo español and the Podenco. There is estimated that each year between 50.000 and 100.000 Galgos are disposed of.


It must be tempting to keep (some of) the rescue dogs… Have you adopted any of them yourself?
It is always tempting to adopt these fantastic dogs. It is the main reason why I am always looking for foster homes: they end up keeping their greyhounds or Galgos. At this moment I have 2 greyhounds and 8 Galgo español.

How does your organization operate exactly?
In short: I receive pictures and descriptions of dogs that are available for adoption from the shelters we work with. This information is put on the website of Greyhounds Rescue Belgium, and people can reserve the dogs. We organize  transports from Malaga every month. We do not have shelters.


On average, at what age do the dogs stop racing?
It depends, but most dogs are retired at the age 3-4 years old.

Are the dogs still healthy after a lifetime of heavy racing?
Most of the dogs are retired from racing because the younger generation is coming up and faster. The second reason is that sometimes they get injured during the training and as a result they are retired of racing.

If someone is interested in adopting a dog through Greyhound Rescue Belgium, what steps should they take? And are there any conditions they have to respect?
All the information can be found on the website of Greyhound Rescue Belgium v.z.w. (charity). See especially the procedure page. Two main conditions are that the dog should not be left alone for more than 5-6 hours during the day and the garden should be fenced 1,80 m high. The best thing is to take at least two dogs, so they have each other to comfort one another.

Do you do any follow-up after the dogs have been re-homed?
Yes, I do follow up every dog during several weeks, some several months. It depends how special they are.


How would you convince someone to adopt instead of buy?
Come and meet those dogs on an info session that I do every month. This will convince you!

What makes greyhounds and Galgo’s so special?
Sight hounds like greyhounds and Galgo español are very special dogs. They have the ability to touch you deep in your hart. It is a feeling that will never leave you again.

Is it at all possible to teach a sight hound to live together with smaller pets, or does it depend a lot on the individual dog?
Greyhounds and Galgo español get on well with other dogs. Some greyhounds are not so good with small dogs. All dogs are conditioned and trained to hunt or to try to catch the lure, so it can be difficult to be with cats. Some do and some don’t.   Greyhounds make great pets.

Is there anything specific people should take into consideration before adopting a greyhound or Galgo?
It is just like with any animal you take in your house: think it over very well. These animals all need TLC (=tender love and care). They can attempt the age of fifteen years old so think twice before you adopt. They deserve a good life.


How can people help Greyhounds Rescue Belgium?
There are different ways to help:

  • Become a member for 15,- EUR or 30,- EUR
  • Transfer a donation for the charity
  • Adopt a dog or better two
  • Become a foster family
  • Consider doing a monthly donation for the Greyhounds Rescue Belgium CASH-project

Where can people reach you?
They can reach us by e-mail: or by phone or on Facebook.


All the photos in this post are copyright of Greyhounds Rescue Belgium, I didn’t take them myself.