By Greyhounds Australasia CEO CHERIE NICHOLL
Across Australian and New Zealand, the controlling bodies are committed to encouraging and facilitating greyhound pet ownership through the provision of safe, healthy greyhounds when a greyhound retires from the racing industry.
The Greyhounds as Pets and Greyhound Adoption Programs have experienced strong interest in both fostering and adopting greyhounds throughout the Covid19 pandemic. In fact, in many jurisdictions the number of greyhounds finding new homes has increased YOY as Covid19 measures have been adopted to enable greyhound adoption to continue.
In WA from FY20 the GAP program began rehoming greyhounds that have been through RWWA’s Greyhound Injury Full Recover Scheme. This allows owners and trainers of greyhounds with eligible injuries acquired during racing to sign over ownership of the greyhound to the GAP program where all associated veterinary costs for the recovery of the greyhound are covered by RWWA. Once the greyhound is fully recovered it is rehomed through GAP’s normal processes. 26 greyhounds were adopted through this pathway in WA from 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2020. That’s on top of the 304 greyhounds adopted FY20 – a 46% increase over FY19.
In FY2020 GAP SA re-homed 358 greyhounds with the ongoing help of regular foster carers, foster-to-adopt families and families applying for adoption. As GAP SA does not have its own kennelling facility, each greyhound that passes its initial assessment is looked after by its GRSA participant owner or trainer until the greyhound moves into a foster home.
In NSW, despite COVID-19, applications for adoptions and fostering through Greyhounds as Pets has soared, and while NSW was already on target to set new benchmark figures for rehoming, the incredible surge ensured record figures for NSW.
But a most significant welfare announcement from GRNSW came in July when the organisation secured a property in the lower Hunter Valley for a farm-stay site, which will become an Australian-first facility to care for retired greyhounds. The property, which has the potential to house up to 400 dogs will be fully operational by next year.
During 2019-20, GRNSW also announced an expansion of their highly successful Regional Greyhounds As Pets program around the State, with plans for the addition of four extra regions – the Hunter, New England, Western Districts and Riverina – bringing the total to six adoption regions across NSW.
In January 2020, Tasracing acquired its first owned and operated greyhound rehoming facility in Southern Tasmania, which allows the public direct access to better demonstrate the suitability of greyhounds as pets and has allowed Tasracing to increase capacity for GAP greyhounds while providing an emergency shelter option.
In FY 2019/20, GAP in Tasmania rehomed 137 greyhounds (that figure was 89 in 2018/19) and aims to rehome 150 greyhounds a year.
In Queensland, GAP is fully funded by the Queensland Government, and is part of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and is dedicated to finding suitable homes for retired greyhounds.
In the 2019-2020 financial year, 240 greyhounds were adopted to Queensland families. During the COVID-19 pandemic the QLD GAP program saw a marked increase in the number of greyhounds adopted as people had more time to devote to having pets at home.
In Victoria through the Stage 4 restrictions, Greyhound Racing Victoria’s very successful adoption program, GAP, is delivering dogs directly to people’s homes. This is making the process to adopt a greyhound as easy, simple, and safe for the staff, greyhounds and the new families adopting the dogs. Since deliveries began on August 7 through to September 16, 254 dogs have been relocated with an impressive 130 going to new homes in just over a month, and 124 to or from foster care.
These are just a few of the examples from the greyhound rehoming programs across the jurisdictions. A fantastic and tangible example of the industry’s drive to put the welfare of the greyhounds at the heart of everything we do.