After the Ban - Where Will All the Greyhounds Go?
Following the New South Wales Government ban on greyhound racing this week, the question on everyone's lips is "what on earth is going to happen to all those greyhounds!?"
The public support behind the ban is clearly evidenced by the overwhelming number of enquiries and calls made to greyhound adoption agencies who have been inundated since the ban was announced by the Premier Mike Baird last Thursday. If the support continues it will go a long way towards rehoming these dogs and their well deserved retirement.
Across Australia, the industry kills 17,000 dogs every year and only 4% of greyhounds make it past the age of three and a half years. Australians - including the Premier by all accounts - are alarmed by the sheer numbers and what it's going to mean after the ban. The reality is that dogs currently racing would have needed re-homing in the next few years anyway, and there has never been enough suitable homes for all the greyhounds that are bred. Breeding has always been excessive and will continue in other states. Until breeding rates are significantly reduced there will always be too many dogs to find homes for so please support greyhound and dog rescue agencies Australia wide. While some dogs lives might be temporarily spared if they race in other states, there is real concern for all of the new or soon-to-be-born puppies that currently have no future and no where to go.
In a post yesterday the The Greyhound Equality Society said "we all know that industry practices are totally unnaceptable" and that "banning greyhound racing will in the long term save thousands of dogs lives".
In an effort to pass the buck, greyhound industry participants are now blaming the imminent 'mass slaughter' on the animal welfare and rescue groups that have encouraged and supported the decision of the NSW and ACT governments. The Greyhound Equality Society goes on to say that animal welfare and rescue groups (dubbed 'anti's') are not responsible for the next 'mass slaughter' any more than they were responsible for the past 'mass slaughters'. They didn't breed the dogs, race the dogs or have any hand in destroying them. "It's a preposterous accusation, but not unexpected" they said.
There won't be enough homes for these dogs, but realistically, there was never going to be and this is one of the very reasons the government is shutting the industry down.
Do you want to help the Greyhounds?
There are a few ways you can help during this important time. Contact your local rescue group now to find out how you can:
- Adopt a greyhound
- Register your interest in fostering a greyhound
- Enquire about volunteering at one of the rescue centres
If you have never considered making a retired racing Greyhound part of your life, then perhaps now is the time to give it some serious thought. Greyhounds are not a breed that can suit everyone, but if you are a responsible pet owner, have a well fenced yard and an understanding of the sighthound temperament, they are a wonderful dog to consider.
If you are unable to help with anything hands on or long term, donations are always welcome. Ask your local shelter what they need but things like blankets and towels, dog food, and cash donations are always helpful and very much appreciated. Most of the centres rely entirely on donations and volunteers to continue their good work. Rescue centres also stress that people need to keep talking about the issue so share this page and others like it and help spread the word. It always helps.
Don't forget that greyhound racing still continues in most States and the Northern Territory and it's highly likely that many of the dogs - at least the fastest ones - will simply be moved interstate to continue racing.
Ex Racing Greyhounds as Pets
Greyhounds that are retired from racing are just like all other dogs but of course they have some unique characteristics. They are generally very intelligent and sensitive dogs, that are also gentle and sociable. Greyhounds adapt to life as family pets well.
Do Greyhounds need a lot of space and exercise?
Greyhounds do not actually require a lot of exercise. They can be perfectly healthy and happy with just one twenty minute walk a day. Greyhounds like to find a snuggly place in the house - usually the couch or a bed, and are very happy to sleep most of the day.
Greyhounds in flats & apartments
Because of their love of snuggling and sleeping and their relatively minimal exercise needs, greyhounds are actually very well suited to life in a flat or apartment. They are very clean, non-smelly dogs, they rarely bark, and don't shed much at all.
Greyhounds seem to take up alot less space than a very busy/active small dog. They don't tend to get in the way and under your feet, and despite their size, can curl up quite neatly in a small cosy corner. According to The Greyhound Adoption Program (NSW) (GAPNSW) many families with small inner city apartments and terraces confirm that their greyhounds are more than happy lounging and don't need a lot of room at all. Remember that if you live in a flat or apartment and would like to adopt a greyhound you will need to get permission from the body corporate.
How well does a retired racer adapt to family life?
Most retired racing Greyhounds will adapt very quickly to life as your close companion or a family pet. Following the stresses of racing - both physical and emotional, greyhounds tend to move easily into a lazy family life. Because they are very clean naturally, house training is generally not a problem once there's a daily routine.
Are Greyhounds good guard dogs?
Greyhounds usually only bark if they are very excited about something or if something is wrong. They otherwise rarely bark so if you're looking for a guard dog a greyhound probably isn't the breed you're after. Most greyhounds are friendly and greet most strangers as friends though some individuals are a little more aloof with people they don't know.
Is a male or a female greyhound better as a pet?
GAPNSW find that many people are concerned about issues in male greyhounds like dominance or aggression, "leg cocking" and overall size. For these reasons people often prefer to choose female dogs. These views are very common and are often based on people's experience with other breeds. Because of this, there is often long waiting lists for females and very little interest in males. This is very unfortunate for obvious reasons, and particularly because male greyhounds are often even more soft natured than females.
GAPNSW also say that in their experience male greyhounds rarely attempt to dominate other dogs, whether male or female - and if anything, the females are more confident and "forward" than the males.
Male greyhounds are very clean and don't cock their legs on furniture or indoor plants. They also don't have the need to mark every tree when out walking like many other breeds. Some males actually don't cock their leg at all, but apparently some females do!
Please consider a boy if you've decided to share your life with a Greyhound. The waiting time will almost undoubtedly be shorter and you will end up with wonderful companion who has none of the problems that you may have expected to come with a male dog.
Are Greyhounds OK with children and other pets?
While racing, many greyhounds never experience other dog breeds or small animals like cats, rabbits and guinea pigs. This, together with the fact that they've been bred to hunt and have a strong instinct to chase means care and attention is needed in assessing each individual and matching homes appropriately. Most Greyhounds will mix well with other dogs but they need to be introduced properly. Some retired dogs will get along well with cats; while others are too 'keen' to live successfully with them. Greyhounds are generally very gentle with children, prefering to walk away from a pestering child; but remember that young children (especially those under five) should never be left alone and unsupervised with any breed of dog.
Can my Greyhound be trained to obey my commands?
Greyhounds rarely pull as they are used to walking on a lead and generally heel well. They will rarely if ever sit, however, unless they are taught. They prefer to stand or lie down. Greyhounds are very intelligent and will learn new commands or exercises quickly but they can be easily distracted or bored. Obedience training is important for any dog being adopted into a new home. However, for the aristocratic and sensitive greyhound, only gentle training methods and positive reinforcement should be used. A greyhound shouldn't be allowed to run off lead unless in a fully fenced and safe area. Their great speed and complete lack of traffic sense means they are at serious risk if they are near roads.
From a racing dog to a member of the family
Dogs accepted into the The Greyhound Adoption Program (NSW) go through a series of health checks and a rehabilitation process before they are ready to go to their new homes. Most retired greyhounds are fit and healthy and in the prime of their lives (usually two to five years old). Some may have minor injuries which stop them being competitive on the track, but which will not affect them at all as a family pet. Once the dogs have been checked by a veterinarian, the dogs are placed in (temporary) foster homes for 3-4 weeks. This helps them get used to life away from racing. Foster carers introduce the greyhound to children, small animals, and common household experiences that kennel dogs are otherwise unfamiliar with. The dogs are monitored during this process and assessed to see how suitable they are for rehoming.
Once a Greyhound has passed this stage of settling and evaluation, they are desexed, have their teeth cleaned, are microchipped, vaccinated, wormed, and tested for heartworm infection. Their monthly heartworm preventative treatment starts and flea treatment if required during the warmer months. When they have fully recovered from their surgery, the Greyhound is then ready to be adopted. The sex, size and, most importantly, the personality of the Greyhound is carefully considered and taken into account when matching the dog with a new adoptive family.
To learn more: How much does it cost to adopt a greyhound? Renting and greyhounds; The greyhound coat, greyhound size; and How long do Greyhounds live? - see More about Greyhounds as Pets
Much of the information in this article was kindly offered by the Greyhound Adoption Program (NSW), Inc. See their Fast Facts. If you think a greyhound would suit your lifestyle and family and you would like further information on adopting or fostering retired racing Greyhounds, email GAPNSW or contact their adoption rep on 02 9452 3446.
You can also find a list of greyhound and dog rescue groups here, and find a group near you using the location search.