Greyhounds pack memorial service for adoption founder

Tampa, Florida -- Bill Sharpsteen founded the Gold Coast Greyhound Adoption service ten years ago and has found homes for more than 5,000 greyhounds.

It was his mission to place the retired race dogs with the perfect mate.

"He was a very big person with a very big heart," said Chris Palmer. "He gave everything he had to everyone and to dogs. That was his thing."

Sharpsteen's friends and family gathered this past weekend to honor the man who fostered 386 greyhounds himself over the years. The service was held at Countryside Christian Center in Clearwater with one, unique twist.

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"We had over 75 greyhounds at his memorial service," said Gina Vittetoe, who got her greyhounds from Sharpsteen.

Over 300 people and 75 dogs spent the afternoon remembering the man who brought them together. The church made a special exception to allow the dogs in the facility. Normally only service animals are allowed in the chapel.

"Knowing Bill, it doesn't surprise me that that's what we did," said Jennifer Rothe. "He would have wanted it that way."

The adoption agency will carry on without Sharpsteen and strive to carry out his mission: to pair loving dogs with loving owners.

"He made everybody feel like family," said Rothe. "Heart bigger than anything you can imagine."

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