By Nadia Dimattina

Greyhounds are lazy, gentle and loving dogs that thrive in the family home environment. Source: Animals Australia

Thousands of greyhounds will be left homeless or killed when they no longer have any purpose to the industry after the official ban of greyhound racing in NSW next year.

Greyhound adoption programs are believed to be vitally important to help these animals be rehomed. However, the transition from being race dogs to everyday companions is not so simple.

Greyhound Adoption programs, or GAP is an initiative of Greyhound Racing Victoria created to help rehome greyhounds that are no longer suitable for racing.

Media relations officer at the Greyhound adoption program, Bridget Scott said adoption programs work towards a smooth transition from being a racing dog to a loving pet.

“Each dog spends time with a volunteer foster carer to help them adjust life on the track to life in a home,” she said.

GAP prides themselves in their regular adoption days, which work towards matching greyhounds to the right owners.

Bridget Scott said the most recent adoption day in Ballarat was very successful. Nearly 900 greyhounds have been adopted through the GAP program in the last financial year.

“We have seen an increase in the number of greyhounds being adopted due to the popularity of greyhounds as pets continuing to rise,” she said.

The growing popularity of greyhounds as pets will continue to rise as many are being adopted through the Greyhound Adoption Program. Photo: Greyhound Racing Victoria.

Each greyhound has its own story. Poppy, a 9-year-old greyhound was adopted from a centre in Noble Park and has provided true companionship and love to her family.

Poppy is a greyhound bred to race but was injured during the training process. She was seen as useless to the greyhound racing industry and was going to be put down if she wasn’t adopted.

Poppy’s owner, Sasha Pursell said that Poppy’s story of survival is rare, and the lives of many greyhounds are in danger if greyhound racing is also shut down in Victoria.

“If they ban greyhound racing in Victoria there will be hundreds of thousands of dogs now put up for adoption or shot because there is not enough people to adopt them,” she said

However, rehoming greyhounds can also bring about animal welfare challenges, as it is not what the dogs are used to.

CEO of RSPCA NSW, Steve Coleman, strongly supports adoption programs but said it is a very difficult task to successfully rehome greyhounds, after being trained in a very intense environment.

“Any endeavours to rehome greyhounds that have been trained and raced is very difficult because these animals are bred specifically for racing, not necessarily to be a companion animal,” he said.

There are over 6,000 registered greyhounds in NSW that will need to be rehomed after the official ban in July next year.

Greyhound racing will be banned in NSW next year. Source: ABC News

Racing Integrity commissioner, Sal Perna said it is important to ensure greyhounds are treated humanely once transitioned out of the industry.

“We don’t want people that are going to a dog, after its finished its racing life and then shooting it because they don’t want it, or euthanising it unlawfully. We don’t want that because welfare is a very important thing and no-one likes cruelty to animals,” he said.

Media Manager at Animals Australia, Lisa Zilberpriver said if greyhound racing is going to be shut down, the ideal situation would be for all current owners and trainers to keep their dogs rather than rehoming them.

“If they truly love their dogs they wouldn’t default to rehoming them at the end of their racing career or in the vast majority of cases euthanasing perfectly healthy young dogs”

Greyhound Racing Victoria are currently in review of the industry to consider what will happen to the thousands of ex-racing dogs left without a home after the ban in NSW next year.

Alyssia Varricchio