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April is Adopt-A-Greyhound Month: Spotlight on Regional Greyhound Rescue Groups

In honour of April being Adopt-a-Greyhound Month, the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds' volunteer Lina Yordanova spoke with two regional rescue groups about how these community-run rescues help socialise Greyhounds.

Busselton Greyhound Awareness (BGA) is located in Busselton, a town of about 27,000 people on the South West tip of Western Australia. Its nineteenth-century wooden jetty stretches nearly two kilometres into the sea.

BGA volunteer Jacky Kemp started fostering in 2013 for the racing industry rehoming group GAP (Greyhounds as Pets), not knowing anything about Greyhounds or racing. Fostering is done by the volunteer taking a dog into his or her own home.

“I missed not having a dog, but couldn’t cope with the loss of my previous pet. Nine months in, I realised what GAP was all about. They were killing more ex-racers than they were rehoming and we were gagged from talking about the industry,” she said.

“I wanted to do more for these dogs than I could with GAP, so started BGA with a friend. We get our dogs from another voluntary organisation in Perth.
“Unfortunately, there are some trainers who insist we cannot have their dogs because we’re openly anti-racing.”
(Left to Right) Greyhounds Cindy, tripod Mac and Saffie

Jacky said despite not wanting to keep a dog herself, she fostered the unwell Greyhound Lucy (who has now died), plus two more called Cindy and Saffie.

Meanwhile, Animal Rehoming Cairns and Tablelands District (ARCATD) is based in Millaa Millaa, a rural town of just over 500 people in the Atherton tablelands of Queensland. The town sits in a valley between two shield volcanoes.

To date, ARCATD has rescued and rehomed 138 Greyhounds. The organisation was first set up by Lorraine Doornebosch, who started a Facebook page called Report Animal Cruelty. Through that group, she met many people involved in rescue.

“We rescued a black Labrador two doors down from us. She went to Assistance Dogs for assessment, passed and underwent training. She was then matched with a young boy as his companion and saving her was such a reward that we got involved with another rescue group,” she said.

Greyhound Pip visiting man in hospital,
 the second Grey rescued by ARCATD.
She came from Cairns Pound
 where she had been abandoned
“One of our first rescues when we opened our own group was a Greyhound and the next came out of the Cairns pound. I already had an Italian Greyhound and a Whippet, so I’ve always loved the sight hounds.”

When it comes to preparing Greyhounds for rehoming, both rescue groups said socialisation is a vital part of a Grey’s life, as it is key to them learning about the world and how to interact with it.

Most dog racing bodies in Australia are required by law to socialise their Greyhounds but evidence has shown that the industry has been ignoring its own rules.

In fact, a CPG survey has found that the racing industry hands over its dogs in poor condition. Community-run Greyhound rescue groups from across Australia reported that most dogs surrendered to them were in poor condition, had untreated wounds from track racing, while many weren’t socialised for rehoming and were unable to do things like walk up or down stairs.

To help improve socialisation skills, both groups said that walking newly-rescued Greys in busy parks and dog-walking areas was vital, rather than just in familiar neighbourhoods.

Lorraine Doornebosch and Lea Mill from ARCATD explained that this is because usually, in popular dog-walking areas, pet owners are more likely to have their dogs on a lead which creates a more controlled environment.

“In a neighbourhood, they are more likely to be cats on the street, or other distractions, which could cause stress. Adopters are also strongly advised not to take their Greys to off-leash dog parks or let them loose on a beach because of most Greys' lack of recall,” Lorraine said.

She said Greyhound socialisation also varies depending on the adoptive household.

“If the adopter happens to own any cats, the process is slower and more gradual, allowing us time to observe the Grey’s reaction. However, more often than not, the newly-rescued dogs are placed into cat-free homes to avoid any mischance,” she said. As well as cats, ARCATD’s Lea advises keeping Greys away from birds or other small fast-moving animals as a sensible precaution. 

However, in most cases, Greyhounds are quite friendly or indifferent to other dogs of all ages and sizes while they all love people!

Silver Greyhound is greeted by PETstock staffer Jonathan

“Home-life and introductions are not very different than for any other new dog. Many Greyhounds have not been inside a home before, so it’s about assuring them of all the things they can now do. Stairs and jumping up onto things can take a while for them to work out how to co-ordinate those lovely long legs,” she said.

“One of our foster parents is always careful to teach their foster that getting up onto lounges and beds is OK when invited because they are mindful that not every adopter will allow a dog on their bed. It’s much easier for the dog if they don’t have to un-learn something.”

Both organisations identified training adopters as another challenge for socialising greyhounds. Lorraine and Lea believe that they probably spend more time educating people than they do the dogs. This effort covers things like Greyhounds' lack of recall, the short bursts of energy, elevating food and water bowls to avoid bloat and good diets for the breed..

Similarly, Jacky Kemp from BGA said the biggest struggle is finding suitable foster carers, as some are very willing but don’t have the necessary strength or the walking ability. This means they must find people to walk the dogs which requires more training and resources.

Greyhound Saffie being walked by a teenage handler

Usually, BGA try to do regular walks with the hounds to get them used to being around each other, as well as the outside world. Getting the greys used to things like traffic noise, bikes, skateboards and prams is crucial.

“Preparing Greyhounds for their forever home varies. It can take a couple of weeks to several months depending on the dogs’ needs and the people coming forward to adopt. Not every dog is suitable for everyone. It’s a case of keeping them till the right people come along for the hound, otherwise we risk getting them back,” Jacky said.

Caroline and son Harvey with their
hounds George  & Bella (L-R)
"The longest we’ve had a dog was six months. We now have a dog that has been with us for three months as it’s getting harder and harder to find people wanting to adopt. I’m afraid the bubble has burst, not just for Greyhounds, but for rescue dogs as a whole.”

BGA has re-homed over 260 Greys in ten years and the only issue stopping them from re-homing more is the lack of foster carers.

Jacky believes that the most difficult part comes when some of the Greys have to be put on medication to calm their anxiety, which is happening more regularly.

“In the past, a lot of hounds would have been euthanised as the industry knew these dogs would be hard to rehabilitate. Now, there’s more of a push not to euthanise,” she says.

BGA also do a Saturday anti-racing awareness table in town where they get their foster and adopted hounds together for the public to see what beautiful pets they make. 

This not only helps the hounds socialise with humans but also introduces them to potential adopters.

As a final note, Jacky believes that most dogs with the right opportunities can be rehabilitated it just takes time and commitment.

If you would like to be involved in the rescuing, helping, and/or re-homing the Greys, here are some useful links to some greyhound rescue groups you can get involved with.

If you are interested in volunteering with:

Busselton Greyhound Awareness, see here,

Animal Rehoming Cairns and Tablelands District, see here,

Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, see here.

written by Lina Yordanova (CPG), March 2023 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. 
Learn more by following their channels on: FacebookWebsiteInstagrammedia coverage.

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