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FILLING THE GAP

SURGE IN DEMAND TO ADOPT GREYHOUNDS AS PETS

In February this year, Greyhound Racing NSW announced it would be expanding its highly successful regional Greyhounds As Pets program around the State, with the addition of 4 extra regions, bringing the total to six adoption regions  across NSW.

The catalyst for the expansion was to help build a better rehoming pathway for all greyhounds in those and surrounding regions, particularly as more than 70% of the sport’s participants are based outside the metropolitan area, and with the success of the inaugural regional GAP program in Southern NSW, followed swiftly by expansion into the Northern Rivers.

The Regional program works quite differently, yet alongside the GAP facilities in Western Sydney and at Wyee on the Central Coast. In the regional program there are no adoption centres as such. The dogs remain with their trainers until they are adopted, and the trainers play a significant part in that process.

“It is a club-based program with the Southern NSW one containing four clubs: Nowra, Goulburn, Bulli and Canberra,” said Natalie Winter, the Southern Regional GAP Coordinator.

“I assist them in rehoming their dogs. The way the process works is you apply for a dog, I find the right dog on our books and put you in touch with the trainer. You then talk to the trainer, and if everyone is happy, the member of public meets the actual trainer and the dog, at one of the racetracks.

“This means the greyhounds are matched appropriately to your lifestyle and circumstances and you also get to ask the trainer anything you’re interested in about the dog’s personality and life before he comes to be homed with you.

“It works really well. The public get to see the participants really love their dogs too. I often get a trainer come up to me quietly at the racetrack, and as they are telling me they have to rehome their dog, they have tears in their eyes. That’s the type of trainer I deal with.

“Even it goes well, we don’t hand the dog over on the day. They go home for 24 hours think about it, let us know if they want to go ahead, then we give them time to get what we call ‘pet ready’.  The whole process takes less than a week usually.

“They have get their dog a bed, a collar and lead, get food and they are all the time getting excited to get their dog. Too often these days with so many things, people want it today. They think I’m going to get that dog now, then they wake up tomorrow and there’s 34 kilos of dog in their apartment making a mess and now they don’t know what to do.”

Once of the best things about this program according to Winter, is the connection between the trainer and new owner. If the owner is concerned about anything they can ring the trainer for advice.

“Most trainers have had the dogs for upto five years, and know their dogs inside and out,” Winter said. “I had one recently she was a hugger.

“I told the new prospective owners that she will stand off to start with, but when she gets to know you she’ll hug you. She went straight up to the husband of this couple who was crouched down, she put her paws around his neck, and nuzzled into him.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in adoption of greyhounds has spiked across the GAP organisation, with significant rises in applications being submitted.

Winter said they are battling to keep up with the demand, but anyone interested should head to the Regional page of the Greyhounds As Pets NSW website: https://www.gapnsw.com.au/regional-program/  where they can not only find out further details, but view the greyhounds available in the Southern Regional GAP program by going to the ‘Greyhound’ page and selecting the Southern Region location from the menu. If you see a greyhound you’re interested in use the online form to put in an application to begin the search for your perfect pet.