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Linda Perko
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Running a Greyhound Orphanage

If you call Linda Perko ’89 during her office hours, chances are you’ll have to make it fast. Between her other phones ringing off the hook and the sounds of greyhounds barking in the background, it is nearly impossible to get a few uninterrupted minutes with her. Perko has so much on her mind she can hardly remember the year she graduated from Notre Dame College.

“I’ll have to get back to you on that,” she says.  

The year was 1989. Perko graduated with a B.A. in Business Administration. Today, she puts her business skills to use for a cause she had never envisioned at the time. Perko is in the business of finding homes for rescued greyhounds. As founder and executive director of Greyhound Adoption of Ohio, the largest and oldest organization of its kind in the state, she is running an orphanage for retired race dogs, so to speak.

“It all started when I went to a dog race in Wheeling, West Virginia,” Perko says. “I noticed in the program an ad for a greyhound adoption site on the grounds. Long story short, I fell in love and ended up adopting my first.” 

Perko learned many greyhounds are euthanized once their careers are over. She felt their story needed to be told and appeared on Channel 5’s “Morning Exchange” to educate the public on dog racing and how greyhounds make great companions.

“After I appeared on the show people kept calling, wanting to adopt greyhounds,” Perko says. “I sent them to different shelters in Indiana and other surrounding states. But I started to get a sense there was a real need for a shelter in the area.”

Ironically, one call Perko received was from the brother of a trainer at the Wheeling racetrack she had visited.

“He explained his brother desperately needed some help. Five dogs were scheduled to be euthanized that week if they didn’t find a home. The dogs were not racing well and the track couldn’t afford to house them,” Perko says.

A week later Perko had taken the dogs in. She put them up in a horse barn on her property until she found them new homes. Over the past 19 years, the barn has been the temporary home of more than 2,000 greyhounds who have found new owners thanks to Perko.

Initially, the “orphanage” had no running water, no heat and dirt floors. But Perko made the best of the situation. Thanks to generous supporters and the tireless work of volunteers, she was able to fix up the barn and put in a furnace and central air. Today, at any given time she has 25 to 30 dogs waiting for a new home.

Perko employs no staff and relies on volunteers like Notre Dame’s Human Resources Director Susan Anderson. Their tasks include basic care of the dogs, fundraising and interviewing potential adopters. It’s very important to Perko that the dogs are placed in good homes. The extensive adoption process involves interviews and checking with the families’ vets to make sure their current pets are cared for. After Perko and her volunteers have met with several potential adopters, they choose the best home for the dog. 

“We love each and every one of the dogs that walk through our door,” Perko says. “I want to make sure they are leaving here and going on to live the life they deserve.”