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EX-EXECUTIVE RACES TO THE RESCUE OF GREYHOUNDS

Claudia Presto is the reason greyhounds have a future after their days in dog racing are over.

Presto serves as an adoption agent for the sleek canines. The animals, bred for speed, otherwise can face euthanasia once they end their careers on the track.It is quite a change of pace for Presto, a runaway from corporate America who once supervised dozens of people at several Fortune 500 companies.

Now, she lives in a small two-room apartment in the southern Utah community of Kanab, where she works as the state's only licensed greyhound adoption agent.

Call her at any given moment and, within a matter of days, she can find and bring back a greyhound of any size and color.

Want a small, black female?

How about a large, muscular, tan male?

Presto will drive to Tucson or Phoenix, where greyhound race parks are common, save one from being put to sleep and have it in your arms within days.

If she could, she would do it all without charging a dime, but she can't - the trip costs money. Presto estimates it costs between $150 and $200 for the save and the drive.

If you ask, Presto will even have the animal spayed or neutered.

Presto's group, the Greyhound Gang, is a licensed nonprofit corporation, but because of the cost of the animals, Presto asks, almost clumsily, for a donation.

"I don't see any of the money," she said. "I'm losing money most of the time on these animals. But I don't care. Still, I hate to ask people for money."

She has dedicated her life to greyhounds.

Don't be fooled by her small, upstairs apartment. With the graciousness of her landlord, the animals have free reign of the large back yard, and she often takes them to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary nearby, where the owners let her run the animals in the fields.

And can these animals run. When they are let out in an open field, they take off like bullets, chasing one another and anything they can find that can run as fast as they do.

But these dogs are probably the most gentle canines around, Presto said. They rarely bark and are passive creatures who long for attention.

Presto is licensed to handle only three dogs at one time. But because she can leave for Phoenix or Tucson anytime and there is such a high turnaround of the animals, she often has fewer than three animals.

Presto was turned on to greyhounds when she still was climbing the ladder of success at the Waldenbooks corporate offices.

She was taking her Afghan to a dog training class when someone walked in with several greyhounds. Presto had never seen one before, but she immediately fell in love.

"After that I went to Connecticut and, in 1987, I started helping rescue greyhounds," she said. "I volunteered with other organizations across the country, and I knew I would either go cross-country volunteering or start my own rescue organization."

Presto chose Kanab because Utah didn't have a greyhound rescue operation and she loves small towns and the West.

"Corporate America was wearing thin," she said. "I had to lay off good people who were working for me.

"I was tired of working 60 hours a week, and I wanted something more from life."

So she headed west.

"I was going somewhere where there was a sense of community; where people cared about each other," she said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I could do something good."

So here Presto lives, with her own trusty greyhound, Slim, beside her, waiting for the next phone call and the next chance to provide another family with a friend while saving a graceful animal from certain death.