It is estimated that there is a minimum of 10,000 greyhounds involved in the racing industry in NSW, and most likely even double this number. With the ban in place, trainers and owners will need to choose between keeping their dogs as 'pets' or surrendering them to shelters. As the greyhound racing industry is progressively shut down in NSW, there will be a lot of rescue groups seeking assistance in rehoming greyhounds discarded by the racing industry. Veterinarians and veterinary clinics looking to offer assistance to rescue groups can do so in a variety of ways.
Firstly, get to know which rescue groups operate in your town or city. The main not-for-profit rescue organisations that specialise in greyhound rehoming are:
Greyhound Rescue – NSW and ACT. Founded in 2009, this organisation has around 70 volunteers who care for greyhounds at their rescue shelter in greater Sydney. Greyhounds are also cared for by foster carers located in NSW and the ACT. For more information, see www.greyhoundrescue.com.au
Gumtree Greys – Qld, NSW, ACT and Vic. This organisation rescues greyhounds listed on online classifieds, regional pounds and directly from trainers. For more information, see www.gumtreegreys.com.au
Greyhound Adoption Program NSW. A non-profit organisation dedicated to the welfare of greyhounds by educating the public on the benefits and care of greyhounds as companion animals, providing foster care and finding permanent homes for these dogs. They rely on memberships and donations and do not accept Greyhound Racing industry funds. (This organisation is distinct from the industry-sponsored Greyhounds As Pets) www.gapnsw.org.au
Since non-industry rescue organisations are entirely volunteer funded, veterinarians can provide valuable support, according to Nora from “Nora’s Foster Hounds”, by “offering them discounted basic veterinary care such as vaccinations and desexing. If there is capacity, some practices could look into offering discounted services for larger scale operations such as surgeries, radiographs, ultrasounds and teeth descaling. Due to the nature of the industry, many greyhounds arrive in deplorable conditions so the latter services would be greatly appreciated by many rescue groups.”
Foster cares often fund basic costs such as food, worming and flea treatment for greyhounds in their care out of their own pockets. Janette from “Friends of the Hound” appreciates the support of her local veterinary clinic in donating bags of kibble for her foster dogs, offering a collection box on their front counter for public donations and by displaying pamphlets and information in the clinic about dogs available for adoption. As a veterinary nurse, she appreciates “having support at work, both on a management level and on a personal level from my work colleagues. It encourages me to stay strong and keep going especially when the going is tough”.
Finally, veterinarians can assist rehoming groups by educating their clients about the gentle nature of the greyhound breed in general, and by promoting greyhound adoption where appropriate; this requires a behavioural assessment of the dog and an assessment of the suitability of the new home, to ensure potential owners have realistic expectations and are able to meet the behavioural and other needs of the dogs.