For National Volunteer Week, Prudential celebrates its employees, who volunteered for more than 350 organizations in 2017.
By Dave Artuso
Volunteering can be addictive. Just ask Jacqueline Howard.
Howard, a copywriting manager for Prudential Individual Life Insurance, adopted her first dog, a greyhound, in 2000. Since then, she’s become a trustee for the nonprofit organization Greyhound Friends of New Jersey, which finds new homes for racing greyhounds whose time chasing the mechanized “bone”—has come and gone. Over the last 18 years, Howard has fostered more than a hundred greyhounds while the organization searched for families to give them a permanent home.
In her position on the organization’s board, last year alone she dedicated more than 1,000 hours of her time to the cause. That included launching a weekly Saturday educational podcast she hosts and produces, called “About Greyhounds.”
For her work, and as part of Points of Light’s National Volunteer Week, which began Sunday, Howard was named Prudential’s 2017 Employee Volunteer of the Year.
“I tear up every time I say goodbye to another dog, but I love the work and I’m extremely proud of it—and of this award,” she says.
Howard was one of 151 employees and retirees recognized by Prudential for logging more than 100 volunteer hours in 2017. Each received the Points of Light President’s Volunteer Service Award. And as the volunteer of the year, Howard is featured this week on Prudential’s billboard in New York City’s Times Square.
In total, Prudential employees volunteered nearly 80,000 hours to more than 350 organizations in the past year.
“You have taken your passion for a cause and dedicated countless hours to make a large and lasting impact in your local community—for this I am extremely proud,” Lucien Alziari, chief human resources officer for Prudential, told the honorees. “When it comes to supporting our communities, the passion and dedication of Prudential employees is what sets us apart.”
From a new pet to a lifelong mission
Howard happened upon greyhounds by process of elimination. The owner of four cats, she is allergic to most dog breeds. Howard had searched most of her adult life for the right adult rescue dog who was trained and didn’t trigger her asthma, as most dog breeds do.
“One day at our vet’s office I met a woman who had brought in her three greyhounds, and my jaw just dropped. They were so beautiful,” Howard recalls with a smile. “I told her I’d heard that greyhounds aren’t good with cats, but she replied, ‘My dear, I have five cats.’”
Then Howard heard their story. Racing greyhounds typically only have three- to five-year careers on the track. After that? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many years ago 20,000 to 30,000 retired racing greyhounds were put down annually in the United States. Because nonprofit greyhound adoption organizations began working together with the dogs’ owners and the racetracks for change, the racing industry had made positive strides.
Howard found more than a new pet; she found a mission.
Her first greyhound was named Tim’s Request. They renamed him Maxwell Savant von Hound—“Max” for short. Since then, Howard has welcomed dogs with such whimsical names as Richard Nixon, H.G. Zooker, Moonracer—whom she kept as a pet and renamed Baron von Hound—and Sandrobber.
The year she adopted her second greyhound, Pilot, Howard also began working with Greyhound Friends, which partners with similar organizations along the East Coast to take in dogs when their racing days are over and prepare them for adoption.
“An owner of racing greyhounds in Florida has a giant trailer he uses to transport, for a per-dog fee, 40 dogs at a time,” she explains. “He stops at greyhound adoption groups on the way up the coast to drop off former racing greyhounds. We [Greyhound Friends] usually take about 10.”
Foster homes like Howard’s then take one or more dogs for at least a couple of weeks. Before placing dogs with foster homes, adoption organizations make sure the animals are bathed, fed well, cat-tolerance-tested and ready for permanent homes.
Some greyhounds have even been adopted through a special program with Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale, New Jersey. Thirty young inmates who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes and who qualify for the program care for about 15 dogs at a time.
The combined efforts of all the nonprofits across the United States has dramatically reduced the number of greyhounds euthanized after their racing careers are over because of age or injury.
And as long as there are retired greyhounds who need homes, Howard plans to serve as a foster parent.
“I won’t let anything stop me from fostering more of these beautiful animals,” she says.