April 20, 2012 -- Tijuana's Caliente racetrack is home to nearly seven hundred galgos, greyhounds, who are part of the shrinking American greyhound racing circuit. Most Caliente dogs race a few times per week, though races are held almost daily. The track is informally known in the dog racing world as a "last stop" track, where older and slower dogs are sent for their final hurrahs. But what happens to Tijuana's racing dogs after the track, when they reach the mandatory retirement age of five or get injured?
Many former race dogs, thanks to an American organization called Fast Friends, go on to new careers as pampered couch potatoes. Tom and Joyce McRorie of La Habra, Calif. founded the nonprofit over 20 years ago. With the help of a large and dedicated volunteer base, their organization is responsible for transporting, rehabilitating,and re-homing more than 3,100 retired greyhounds from Tijuana. Over the years, the McRories have worked hard to grow a trusting relationship with Caliente, and today, they even rent two dog pens at the track, where "broken" (broken leg, a common injury) and retired greyhounds stay until one of the Fast Friends cross-border dog pick-up trips. Their goal? To try to save every single retiree, broken or not.
April is National Greyhound Adoption month, and we recently tagged along as the McRorie's traveled to Tijuana and back for one of their largest "Retirement Days" yet.