A GREYHOUND rescue charity has made an urgent appeal for people to provide welcoming homes for the loveable breed.

Billie Jo Duncan of Greyhound Rescue NorthEast made the call as the centre finds itself looking after more retired racers and abandoned pets than it ever has since it opened 20 years ago, in Easington Colliery, County Durham.

Billie Jo, 29, said: “It has got to the stage where we are absolutely inundated. We have space for 40 dogs but have 52 dogs on our books.

“We are getting that many that we are having to turn dogs away, which we do not want to have to do.

“And we are having to raise extra money to pay kennels to look after some of them, because we do not have enough room.”

She added: “Greyhounds often get overlooked. People who do not know the breed think they are vicious killing dogs.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. They are just 40mph couch potatoes. They don’t need very much exercise. I have them in the house living with cats. They make fantastic pets.”

Billie Jo, who works as a veterinary nurse and has friends in the racing fraternity, said the charity was set up by her parents Steve and Vicki.

She said: “While the Greyhound Trust takes dogs from the big racecourses, we take dogs found abandoned in the streets and those used in (unregulated) flapper races where there are no rules.

“Many of these dogs would have been put to sleep otherwise, but I believe every one deserves a chance.”

One of the reasons for the large numbers of greyhounds is that there is no licence required for breeding them – and can have litters of up to 13 pups at a time.

Among the longer-term residents of the rescue home is retired racer Bruce, who was passed from “pillar to post” before being arriving at centre two years ago.

Nearly six years old now, the dog has been considered too big by prospective adopters, but has a “friendly nature and loves playing”.

Five-year-old Lenny has not been picked because “no-one wants black dogs”.

Scooby, three, a retired racer, is frisky dog, while Jay, four, is described as quiet.

The family, which is helped by several volunteers, hold fundraising events to help cover costs and work full-time to pay for the centre.

Billy Jo said: “When a dog leaves us it is neutered, microchipped and vaccinated and includes a collar and lead. All we ask is a minimum donation of £100 - it cost us more to get a dog ready.”