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June is National Foster a Pet Month: community Greyhound rescues pick up the pieces

With National Foster A Pet Month in June, it is wonderful to know that there are some people out there who help ensure fewer Greyhounds are euthanased because they weren't treated for racing injuries.

When two-year-old Victorian Greyhound Zoe was offered for free on Facebook, community rescue volunteer Chris swooped in, contacted the trainer and offered to take her so she didn’t ‘slip through the cracks’.

This happens because not one state government in Australia has implemented birth to death tracking of Greyhounds, despite the RSPCA recommending it years ago. Without this, the fate of these dogs can be uncertain when they stop racing.

Meanwhile, Julia Cockram, Director and Behaviour Coordinator for community-run rescue Gumtree Greys, says volunteer Chris has fostered dog after dog while finishing his legal studies – lucky Zoe! (Chris and Zoe featured above)
All of the dogs Chris has fostered have severe medical issues.
He is by far our most experienced carer outside of our volunteer co-ordinators and a hero in my mind. We have so many great volunteers, but can always do with more,” said Julia, who like everyone in Gumtree Greys is unpaid.

She and Chris discovered Zoe had suffered a broken toe while racing. The vet record showed Zoe’s wound care wasn’t maintained and she lost the toe as a result, despite all dog racing bodies requiring minimum standards of care on paper.

Rescued Greyhound Zoe suffered a broken toe (shown before surgery)

Before her surgery, Greyhound Zoe also suffered from an ulcer on one foot and dandruff on her coat

“Even though she only has two toes, Zoe has the sweetest, most affectionate and forgiving nature and has you wrapped around her paw within seconds of meeting her,” said Julia.

Zoe can walk and run on the two toes she has left on her wonky foot, but if she dislocates or breaks the remaining toes, her leg will have to be amputated.

“There is a future risk, but we took the chance that Zoe may have many more years with only two toes on that foot to bear her weight. However, If things go awry, ‘tripod’ dogs can live a full and happy life,” said Julia. Watch this video!

Tripod Greyhounds can still lead a good life!

GRV’s regulatory structure is failing

“Why wasn’t Zoe’s injury followed up on? Clearly, there aren’t adequate systems in place to ensure Greyhounds receive the necessary treatment and rehabilitation if they’re injured while racing,” said Julie Cockram.

“Also, we knew we had to take Zoe to save her life. GAP, the Victorian Greyhound industry re-homing arm, wouldn't take her. One of GRV’s own vets said he wasn’t willing to put Zoe through the GAP assessment because of the condition of her foot.

Julia said GAP only wants ‘perfect ex-racers’ to rehome and isn’t willing to go the extra mile for Greyhounds with problems, as do community-based rescues, which are also no kill.

“This is incredibly unfair. GAP Victoria has a budget from GRV of over $4M for both 2019/20 and 2020/21, while community-run rescues operate on the smell of an oily rag,” she said. The Victorian State Government also gave $44M of taxpayer dollars to GRV in COVID funding during 2020!

“So GRV is receiving massive government handouts, spending little on rehoming initiatives and training, refusing dogs that require medical treatment, behavioural support or rehabilitation. When they decide they can’t take any more dogs, it gives trainers our phone number,” said Julia.

“Even if a dog does manage to make it into the GAP program, it also has to go through the green collar assessment and some are rated unsuitable for re-homing. This is how the racing industry fails dogs. Socialisation is a requirement on paper, but it’s not enforced by the authorities.”

Even the racing industry itself has been critical of the GAP screening test and recognises the incredible contribution made by community-run rescue groups.

The industry magazine 
Australian Racing Greyhound wrote of community-run greyhound rescues in Victoria - “Unlike GRV they do not discriminate, and do not expect dogs to fit a mould, rather taking the approach to rehoming of all Greyhounds while respecting the dog’s individuality.”

CPG’s white paper on rehoming shows about 10 percent of dogs entering GAP Victoria are euthanased, but the data is not verified by an independent regulator, so this figure could be higher.

“All GAPs euthanase Greyhounds deemed to be unsuitable for rehoming, whereas community rehoming groups are no-kill. So why is there such a disparity in approach? As usual, it’s about money, not love, when it comes to the Greyhound racing industry,” said Julia.

“The industry GAPs aim to screen out Greyhounds that have been poorly socialised by industry participants, so that re-homing costs are kept down.”

Meanwhile, the re-homing effort by Victorian community groups has always been stellar – they rehome around 1,500 dogs per year

By comparison, GAP Victoria’s efforts have been in moderate decline since they hit a high of just over 1,250 in 2016/17. Their latest effort was 951 in 2020/21!

Self-regulation doesn’t work

This inequitable situation exists because GRV is responsible for promoting Greyhound racing in Victoria, but is also the regulator responsible for Greyhound welfare.

This is despite a Victorian inquiry into the dog racing industry which recommended in 2015 that commercial and regulatory functions should be separated.

“When the two functions are held by the same authority, it always creates a conflict of interest,” said Julia.

“There are just so many loopholes within GRV’s self-regulated model. GRV keeps saying that the industry has reformed and that welfare is top priority, but that's not what we’re seeing. These dogs are being let down.”

Happy Zoe on the mend, wearing a paw shoe
She said GAP’s ‘passing of the buck’ means rescue charities are not only facing a bigger burden, but are doing so without the 
type of assistance provided elsewhere.

“Why is it that Greyhounds like Zoe end up with, and are better cared for by the unfunded rescues than by the industry? It’s just unethical and racing is a big business which is taking advantage of the public’s compassion,” said Julia.

Fortunately Gumtree Greys has an amazing network of volunteer foster carers - ‘Greyhound guardians’ - who open their homes and hearts to these beautiful dogs, no longer required by the racing industry.

“After years of living in small enclosures, they need to learn how to live life as a family dog. Skills they need to acquire include learning to climb stairs, riding in cars and how to behave when interacting with other breeds of dogs while out walking,” said Julia.

Zoe grinning, soon ready for a furever home!
“Chris and our other carers are unbelievably amazing humans who do everything they can to get these dogs right. 

Zoe’s coming along really well and will be ready for re-homing shortly,” said Julia. 

CPG recommends several solutions that both state governments and the racing industry could adopt if they want to improve greyhound rehoming. These include:

✔️ Regulators must enforce socialisation requirements by way of checks during kennel inspections – when industry participants have failed to socialise their greyhounds, they should be penalised.

✔️ State governments must stop giving taxpayers’ money to the greyhound racing industry and instead put it towards greyhound rehoming.

✔️ CPG's proposals are part of a five-point plan developed to reform the racing industry. As well as safer tracks, the plan includes whole-of-life tracking of each dog, reduced breeding, sanctuaries and increased penalties for mistreatment.

Ready to welcome one of these beautiful Greyhounds into your home? 
Visit to learn how you can help make a difference.

written by Steph Tapply and Fiona Chisholm (CPG), May 2022 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

About Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds

CPG is a dedicated group of people across Australia who work together to inform the public about the cruelties of Greyhound racing. 
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