GAP reached new heights across Australasia

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By Greyhounds Australasia CEO Cherie Nicholl

As we approach the end of what has been a challenging year, I thought it worthwhile to update the terrific work that is done in the greyhound adoption programs across the jurisdictions.

This is a signification focus for all the controlling bodies and the programs and initiatives highlighted demonstrate the great work that is being done to make sure as many of our greyhounds are matched with the perfect forever home as possible.

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) has had a busy 12 months, despite COVID restrictions reducing the usual number of community events and adoption days.

An Open Day was held in April at GAP Churchable with many interested members of the public attending to check out the facility and of course to meet the greyhounds. The Queensland program adopted 228 greyhounds in the 2020-21 financial year.

Qld GAP staff try their best to match families with the most suitable greyhound – taking into consideration a family’s composition, daily routines, and energy levels. The team’s results this year indicates how the Commission emphasises its ability to match applicants with the most suitable greyhounds, as very few dogs were returned to GAP by their owners.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 there have been many positives for the Greyhounds As Pets program in South Australia. Greyhound Racing SA continues to fully support rehoming targets for all suitable greyhounds, with an investment of over $1.75m for GAP and related rehoming initiatives in the past financial year. Over the last year, a total of 403 retired greyhounds were placed in their forever homes by GAP, 65 of whom were fostered in the Adelaide Women’s Prison and the Mobilong Prison Programs. An additional 258 greyhounds were rehomed by participants, adopted out through other rehoming programs, or taken up by their owners (either for breeding or as a pet).

In December last year, GRSA took the step to rebrand from ‘Greyhound Adoption Program’ to ‘Greyhounds As Pets’. This is a better fit given the large amount of fostering of greyhounds that occurs, not just adopting.

GRNSW once again created a new benchmark for rehoming. In FY20-21, GRNSW assisted in rehoming 1,880 greyhounds through its Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) adoption centres, the Regional GAP programs and their Homing Assistance schemes providing financial assistance to greyhound owners, and other rehoming organisations to transition greyhounds from the racing industry into life as a pet.

The total of 1,880 rehomed greyhounds was an increase of 41% on the previous year’s record of 1,337 rehomed greyhounds, and the FY20-21 figures were up more than 150% on the 729 reported in FY18-19.

The Greyhounds as Pets program in Western Australia has achieved some great results over the past year. The number of greyhounds adopted through GAP has risen strongly in the past three years from 204 adoptions in 2019 to 304 in 2020 and 335 for the 2021 financial year. Greyhounds as Pets is now rehoming more than half the greyhounds making the transition from racing in WA and the level of successful retirements continues to rise.
In April, 31 greyhounds were rehomed in an adoption month promotion and a further 36 on the foster to adopt pathway had their new homes finalised the following month.
During the 2021 financial year, the WA GAP continued to enhance partnerships and volunteer programs, introducing a new alliance with Applied Vocational Training for the delivery of a short-term intensive course in animal care and welfare, overseen by Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s Senior Animal Behaviourist Dr Liam Clay.

In GAP’s 25th year in Victoria, over almost 5 months of lockdown periods the Greyhound Adoption Program pivoted to enable safe and socially distanced adoptions and foster care drop-offs and pickups. The aptly named ‘GAP Greyhound Bus’ travelled over 24,000 kilometres across regional and metropolitan Victoria, delivering 366 Greyhounds who were newly adopted to their forever homes. That’s in addition to the 172 dogs that were delivered to foster care and 186 dogs that were collected from foster care.

To celebrate the milestone of GAP’s 25th Birthday (Celebrated March 2021) the faces of GAP, Leah, and Trev the greyhound, were on hand at GAP Seymour with their party hats (Trev wore a tie for the occasion) to pose for photos. Trev even got to star in a live cross for Channel 7 News along with GAP Rehoming Manager Sean Stanton.

April became National Adopt a Greyhound Month for Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program with hundreds logging on to virtual Info sessions and fantastic socially distanced attendance at the in-person events held across the month. April Featured Info sessions regarding, Adoption, Foster caring, Volunteering and Vet advice for Greyhound families, as well as an in-person adoption day (the first since the start of the pandemic) and GAP Café city walks and get togethers.

2021 was the second official year of GRNZ’s Great Mates Rehoming Programme which was established to bring together several rehoming partners that had been operating for the past decade, into a unified program. The NZ team have has continued to support the programme extending its rehoming capabilities with the addition of a 4th Great Mates Rehoming kennel managed by a qualified behaviourist Kerry Hurst.

Kerry also provides Great Mates with their South Island red dog training facility for those greyhounds needing qualified behaviour training, so now both the north and south islands have 2 rehoming kennel bases and a training facility available on each.

Over the last year, 607 greyhounds were adopted through the Great Mates Rehoming programme with an additional 32 kept by owners as a pet, 38 kept by trainers as a pet and 57 privately rehomed, taking the total number of greyhounds adopted as pets in NZ to 734, the highest number of greyhounds adopted in NZ to date.

GAP Tasracing appointed a new GAP manager in April 2021. Lianne Salerno, who joined Tasracing from Greyhound Racing Victoria, has a strong background in animal health and welfare, leadership, and business management.

GAP is in the process of updating animal care, administration, facility management and marketing processes. Planned improvements include the introduction of a new behaviour modification program, new kennel management software and the expansion of the facility to include a new kennel block, admin centre, car park and signage.

GAP Tasmania recently launched a new public awareness campaign across Tasmania, under the banner ‘Find your new BFF! (Best Fur Friend!). The awareness campaign spans multiple media channels and includes very prominent bus advertising across the state.

Despite the challenges of 2021, the adoption programs have been going from strength to strength striving to continually enhance the experience for the greyhounds, their foster carers, and the new forever families. It will be great to see how the adoption programs continue to evolve and grow over 2022!

Not long to go until we all get a good break for the Festive Season, so keep well until then.

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