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Greyhound Rescue celebrates 10 years of saving Greyhounds

How did Greyhound Rescue get started? It’s a story with true Christmas spirit ...

Greyhound Rescue’s celebratory tenth year is drawing to a close, so it’s timely to go back to the grassroots story of how it all began.

Greyhound Rescue (GR) is a charity which runs almost entirely with volunteers and is not linked with the racing industry. GR has homed well over 1000 dogs in its ten years and depends on fundraising and donations. 

To watch a 2 min video about Greyhound Rescue's work, click here

How did it get this far when it started in a couple’s backyard? How did its retired founder fund this effort at a time when most of us need to reduce our spending, not increase it? GR founder Janet Flann said most people would be shocked if they knew the whole story.

After raising a family of three sons, Janet and her husband Peter migrated from England to Australia in 1978. They’d got an initial taste for Australia during Peter’s two-year fellowship teaching maths in Geelong during the early seventies.

After returning to England in 1989 for family reasons, they came back to Sydney’s Northern Beaches in 2001. Soon after that the Flanns started their long love affair with Greyhounds, having already volunteered in animal rescue for many years back in England.

“First in 2005 we adopted two greys, then others arrived and it wasn’t long before we had quite a few at our own home on Sydney’s northern beaches. Luckily greyhounds are low maintenance, don’t bark much and they all got along well together, making the whole thing possible,” said Janet.

In 2007, a cruelty case came up. Suddenly, 35 Greyhounds in a pound were in danger of being put down. Luckily the Flanns found some kennels to use, found homes for many of the dogs, as well as places with rescues to overcome the emergency.

“We didn’t have much money for this, so I went to all the butchers for their off-cuts and then to bakers for discarded bread. With the little spare money available, I bought some meat and kibble,” said Janet.

Most Greyhounds they got then were “all in a dreadful state with terrible teeth”, so it took any savings they had. The dogs were rescued from pounds, trainers and breeders.

“Vet Rob Zammit (Vineyard Veterinary Hospital) helped us by charging cost for everything. This included desexing, worm tablets, teeth cleaning and so on. Rob was a godsend and we got by on the skin of our teeth,” said Janet.

Janet and Peter found all kinds of ways to make ends meet.

“We drove all over Sydney to put up notices in Petbarn and other stores to get greys re-homed. It was extremely difficult. We collected leftovers from garage sales, then stockpiled until we had enough to do our own sale. It was very hard work. I even used to make the dogs’ coats and beds because money was so short,” said Janet.

Greyhound Rescue was formally set up in 2009. Volunteer Lisa created a website and arranged for the donation of a logo design that is still used today.

“In the same year GR also became a charity. That meant donations were now tax deductible. Our aim was to find homes for the many greyhounds surplus to the requirements of the racing industry. The first GR committee meeting was held on 14th August 2010,” said Janet.

“It was no easy matter becoming a charity. There was lots of paperwork, in addition to all the daily work of looking after Greyhounds and finding them homes. We even did the website!”

The Flanns decided to continue with renting kennels, rather than relying only on people fostering rescue greyhounds in their own homes, which is how many rescues operate. Having kennels meant they could save far more dogs, but involved the ongoing struggle to find funds.

“We did this by fundraising and by using our own savings. Our first volunteers were mostly people who adopted the first Greyhounds we homed. Our first kennels were in a semi-rural area at Riverstone in Sydney for about five years,” said Janet.

Eventually, this property was compulsorily acquired by the local council for further developments, but the couple were lucky enough to find another property not far away at Rouse Hill.

“We survived there for three years, until there were more council problems. In late 2017, we moved to kennels in the Camden area after a long search for the right property,” said Janet.

By this time, Greyhound Rescue had again amassed about 100 volunteers and Peter was chair of GR’s managing committee. Meanwhile, Janet liaised with the trainers and owners who wanted to hand over their Greyhounds to GR.

Peter said a few of the volunteers were digital volunteers working from home, but most were kennel vollies. This meant that moving the location posed some big questions. Who’d be able to continue with GR in the Camden region?

“We didn’t know what would happen and just hoped for the best. About half of the kennel vollies were able to continue after the move. Many of our volunteers work full-time and some have families as well, so their time for travelling as well was limited. This meant recruiting a whole bunch of new volunteers,” said Peter.

He said local newspapers like the Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser and the Macarthur Chronicle were "wonderful”. Through them GR found many new vollies local to the region.

“After a big effort, we had enough kennel vollies to transport, feed, walk and love the greys. They also clean and poop-scoop! We recruit new kennel volunteers as needed," said Peter.

"The vollies who do digital volunteering continued with us. This work includes social media, PR and writing submissions. It also includes liaising with new adopters and foster carers. We’ve never had money for advertising, so the mainstream media and social media are vital."

Now, GR has more than 100 active volunteers: “They contribute their hard work and imagination to the cause,” said Peter.

Some of these volunteers also attend GR event days. At these events, members of the public have the chance to meet a rescue Greyhound for the first time. 
These ‘meet and greets’ are sometimes part of existing community days like Paws in the Park.
Companies like Lush also give GR the opportunity to hold events at retail shopfronts.

Peter said there are now also volunteers who organise and run corporate volunteering days at the kennels. These large company teams get big, one-off projects done.

“This is vital. You can’t expect regular vollies to do these projects. Tasks like painting, fencing and replacing perished shade cloth on all the runs, as well as better lighting and spring-cleaning also get done,” he said.

So far, a wide range of companies have chosen to help out - Bunnings, Deloitte, construction group SMLXL, insurance firm Vero, SalesForce and travel services provider Trafalgar.

BBC Worldwide visited twice in two years. In 2017, its team of 20 helped prepare basic overnight accommodation,” said Peter.

“On their second visit, they did a wide range of other things! They washed windows, cleared cobwebs, swept up leaves and tidied fencing wire. They also moved poles and wire for fire truck access. Then, they walked every dog and gave a couple of newcomers a much-needed bath! We also needed eyes removed for safety from toys donated for the dogs, so they got that done too!”

Peter and Janet are now in their late seventies and have nine grandchildren. Health issues are emerging for both of them.

GR Chair Nat Panzarino
Photo: Michael Bourchier
With GR having become a full-time job, they’ve decided to take some well-earned rest.

Peter has handed over the role of GR committee chair to one of the long-term volunteers, Nat Panzarino, who was interested in the role. She's GR's chief social media vollie and organises ‘meet and greet’ events.

"Nat also fundraises. One way she did this was to write a children’s book about a Greyhound character called Pointy Pembleton,” said Peter.

Today, with Nat as chair and volunteer Susan Neil as the new GR treasurer, the charity has about 70 Greyhounds in its care as usual, with some housed at kennels and others in foster care.

Fostering is an important step. The Greyhounds have mostly lived in kennels. It's important they spend some time in a home. 

Foster care means they can learn about everyday sights and sounds. This involves things like TV sets, vacuums, washing machines, small dogs and kids,” said Peter.

"Also, the dogs we placed ten years ago are now dying of old age. Owners are starting to come back to us for their new greys. But, there are always more dogs coming in or waiting to come in that need to find a loving home," he said.

“GR has become a big charity and last financial year found homes for nearly 200 Greyhounds, a far cry from the small rescue we started so many years ago, but it will always be looking for new kennel volunteers!”

How you can help

To donate, visit

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