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The multi-skilled Greyhound foster carer - a vital role in the transition to family pet

June is National Foster A Pet Month, a time to celebrate and promote the fostering of pets in need. 

It’s also a month to highlight the dedicated efforts of community rescue volunteers who go above and beyond to provide care and support to all kinds of animals, including Greyhounds. 

Given this, the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds would like to recognise all foster carers and especially ‘houndie’ carers. People like 'Mortorcycle Mama' Annie Hendley (lead image - credit Andrew Swinfield) who is a Houndie foster carer, CPG's Qld volunteer spokesperson and is also organising a big bike ride on Queensland's Gold Coast on Sunday, 10 September, 2023 to raise money for Greyhound rescue.

In many states, the community rehomes more Greyhounds than the cashed-up racing industry rehoming arm GAP (Greyhounds as Pets). Contrary to common misconceptions, community-run rescues rarely have kennels where dogs are fostered and prepared for rehoming. In fact, fostering is done by members of the public who take dogs, including ex-racing Greyhounds, into their own homes.

This is particularly necessary in Australia because it has a large population of retired racing Greyhounds that need homes due to over breeding. Fortunately, there are many organisations across Australia involved in rehoming these wonderful dogs – some specialise in Greyhounds, others rehome many kinds of animals.

One of the latter is the Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ), where Ann Jeffery has been volunteering for almost 11 years. Ann began fostering Greyhounds with AWLQ because she couldn't bear to see them reach the end of their lives without knowing the comfort of a home.
“I wanted to show them that there’s love and kindness instead of exploitation and being treated like a commodity,” she said.
Ann's first rescue Greyhound, Tess

Ann was drawn to Greyhounds because of her love for sight hounds, having previously owned Afghans and Irish Setters. 

Her first foster Greyhound was Tess, who became a ‘foster fail’ and was adopted by Ann, bringing them both 10 years of love and joy.

“Over time, I’ve fostered many Greyhounds. I haven’t counted the numbers, but many names come to mind, Mimi, Bandicute, Dee Dee, Winston, Charlie and my beloved Bouncer whom I adopted six years ago," she said.

Currently, Ann is fostering a Greyhound named Chelsea, whom she is finding it hard to part with.

AWLQ Foster Carer Ann Jeffery with
Greyhounds Bouncer & Chelsea (L to R)

“I would encourage others to foster because we can’t adopt them all, but we can help them move on to their furever homes,” she said.

“While a piece of my heart goes with them and I shed tears, there is the consolation that another household has found what a great and loving family member a Greyhound can become.”

Ann is part of AWLQ's 'Going Grey' program. This initiative helps retired racing greyhounds find caring homes through fostering, rehabilitation and adoption efforts. 

AWLQ has produced a terrific guide is useful for both volunteers and would-be adopters.

“The ‘Going Grey’ program aims to raise awareness, provide medical care, training and promote responsible Greyhound ownership. It highlights responsible Greyhound ownership and the best ways to help rescued Greyhounds adapt to life as a family pet,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jasmine Krahe is a foster carer who volunteers for Scruffer Lovers which is a small registered charity dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of dogs in South Australia. The group is an entirely volunteer-based dog rescue.

Jasmine with her Greyhound named King
Jasmine’s journey into fostering Greyhounds started with her adopted Greyhound named King.

“I adopted him on a whim, not knowing much about Greyhounds but wanting to rescue a dog that might be overlooked by others,” she said.

“After following and connecting with Greyhound pages on Instagram, I became aware of the dark side of Greyhound racing, including dogs being discarded and euthanised for no longer being profitable, as well as the extensive re-homing wait list managed by all rehoming groups.”

Jasmine decided to help Greyhounds by fostering them to get them off the wait list. Over the past two years, she has fostered three Greyhounds named Harry, Sock, and Sampson, each with different emotional and physical needs. The length of time she has fostered each dog has varied from one to four months, with Sock being the longest.
“Fostering Greyhounds has been a challenging but highly rewarding experience for me. The challenges come from managing and accommodating the dogs' needs as they adjust to life in a home environment,” she said.
“I also address any medical issues they may have and help them overcome emotional scars from their racing days. 

Romy had become terrified of men during her time in the industry and needed to be re-socialised
to learn there are good humans too - Credit: @bronwynchowphotography

Volunteers like myself also provide much-needed emotional support to Greyhounds due to their sometimes inadequate socialisation skills,” she said.

Socialisation skills are typically developed between 3 to 17 weeks of age in dogs, but the racing industry ignores its own rules about the importance of Greyhound socialisation. According to the RSPCA, many racing Greyhound puppies and adult dogs are not adequately socialised with other dogshumans, or with the sights, sounds, and experiences that companion dogs are likely to encounter in their lives.

Jasmine works diligently with each foster dog, providing them with a safe space to decompress, teaching them basic manners and helping them build trust and confidence.

“Some of these challenges are noise or sensory based, such as traffic, washing machines, vacuums, plus slippery tiles and floor boards. 
Watch this great video of how four-year old adopted Greyhound Scout was taught how to climb stairs.

Also some dogs can have reactivity and resource guarding from never being socialised with other dog breeds, or ever having to share space,” she said.

Jasmine says separation anxiety can also another big issue, as Greyhounds have always lived with other dogs. “These means that sometimes being alone is a new experience for them and can be very overwhelming,” she said.

Jasmine’s commitment to fostering Greyhounds has also inspired others in her community to get involved in greyhound rescue and adoption, creating a ripple effect of positive change.
Despite the challenges, I find immense joy in witnessing the transformation of each foster dog.
I see their personalities bloom, their physical health improve and their spirits lift as they learn to trust again,” she said.

Adoptable Danny 'Long Legs' (SA)
“I would encourage anyone that can to foster as it truly saves lives and the foster dogs will repay you with unwavering love. Fostering is truly a mental, physical and emotional journey. However, it's one of the most rewarding things I have ever done."

Jasmine is not alone in her efforts to make a difference in the lives of Greyhounds. 

Across Australia, there are countless other individuals who selflessly dedicate their time, energy, and resources to fostering greyhounds and helping them find forever homes.

Andrea Pollard, President of the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (below) said in addition to fostering, volunteers also play a vital role in raising awareness about Greyhound adoption and advocating for the welfare of Greyhounds.

Andrea Pollard, President of the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds

“They educate their communities about the realities of Greyhound racing and the need for adoption, dispelling myths and misconceptions about Greyhounds as pets. They participate in adoption events, fundraisers and outreach programs to promote Greyhound adoption,” she said.

“They also raise funds for veterinary care, food and other expenses and provide ongoing support to adopters. They offer guidance and advice on how to care for their new furry family members, stay in touch with adopters, provide follow-up visits and offering assistance in case of any issues that may arise.”

Andrea said this ongoing support ensures that the Greyhounds find happy and long term homes.“Some of these foster carers also work closely with other animal welfare organisations, vets and professionals in the field to advocate for improved animal welfare laws and regulations. They raise their voices for Greyhounds, “she said.

“They advocate for better treatment and protection of these gentle dogs who have suffered in the racing industry. A good example of this is the work done to stop companies placing their ads during TV programs about Greyhound racing,” Andrea said.

CPG volunteers – many of whom like Jasmine fostered Greyhounds and then learned about the cruelty of the dog racing industry – have successfully lobbied over 40 major Australian businesses to ensure their ads never again appear on such shows.

Some of these brands are: AAMI, ANZ, Arnott’s, Aussie Broadband, Bendigo Bank, Best & Less, BMW, Carpet Court, Citibank Australia, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Coles, Colorbond, Dettol, Farmers Union, Flight Centre, Godfreys, Goodman Fielder, Honda, Isuzu, Kathmandu, Kia, Lego, Macquarie Bank, Mars Wrigley, Mazda, Officeworks, Pandora, RAMS, Rebel, Samsung and Suzuki.

“The vast majority of these and other companies were unaware that their ads were running during a dog racing TV program. It wasn’t part of their planned media schedule. Instead, it was a bonus placement by the TV network,” said Andrea.

“The companies all instructed their ad agencies to ensure that their ads never appear in any future episodes of such TV shows. It was hugely satisfying for all our volunteers, but especially those who have fostered or adopted greyhounds and seen first-hand how they’ve suffered due to dog racing.”

Not surprisingly, RSPCA Australia says that the Greyhound racing industry continues to face significant animal welfare issues. Until these are adequately addressed the RSPCA does not support greyhound racing

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

If you are interested in volunteering with:

Scruffer Lovers (SA), see here,
Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ), see here,
Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, see here.

written by Sarah Davis, CPG volunteer, for Australian Dog Lover, May 2023 (all rights reserved)

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