NEW YORK (AP) _ Retired greyhounds are heading for greener pastures, and living-room sofas: Racing and animal-protection groups said Tuesday they have set up a $100,000 fund to help save thousands of the dogs from early graves.

''This dog is as soft and as loving as it's possible for a dog to be,'' said Roger Caras, president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Alongside him stood Herme, a sleek greyhound without a track but no longer without a home.

''There's no justification for euthanizing an animal like this because he can't run any more,'' Caras said.

The ASPCA will oversee the Greyhound Adoption Fund put together by the American Greyhound Council to address the problem of unwanted dogs in greyhound racing. The council represents track owners, greyhound owners and breeders.

The money goes to about 25 greyhound adoption groups around the country to cover costs for kennels, runs, food and veterinary care.

A videotape will be played at racetracks to help get out the message to those eager to adopt a retired racer: ''We're athletes, we're beautiful, we're elegant and we're yours.''

The fate of many over-the-hill greyhounds was sharply illustrated earlier this month in Arizona when the carcasses of 124 greyhounds were found in a citrus orchard near Chandler Heights south of Phoenix.

The dogs had been shot or bludgeoned to death and their left ears cut off. That is where racing dogs are tattooed with an identifying number.

Thousands of greyhounds are euthanized each year because they can't win races, Caras said. The ASPCA still does not endorse dog racing, but Caras said the joint venture will help ''make it as good as possible for the animals.''

Breeders are often to blame for mistreatment, he said. ''They raise them to make money, and then they do the same thing you do with an old car. You scrap it.''

William Georgantos, president of the American Greyhound Council, said the industry ''will not stand for the inhumane treatment of greyhounds and will do everything within our power to make sure that what happened in Chandler doesn't happen again.''