Don’t get Sean Stanton – rehoming manager for Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program – started on his love of greyhounds. He’s got three of them: eight-year-old Honey, nine-year-old Bear, and 11-year-old Roxy, who he’s had for nearly ten years. “We’re a family of five: two humans and three greyhounds!” he says, laughing. “They mean the world to us. The old girl is getting on in age, but she brings a lot of joy and happiness and love into our home.”
Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) works closely with the Victorian racing industry to take in ex-racing dogs, prepare them for life as a pet, then match them with the right owner from their adoption centre in Seymour. When greyhounds come into GAP’s care, they’re often unaccustomed to life indoors – which is where volunteer foster carers come in. “In foster care, they’re prepared for things like floorboards, windows, TVs and couches that they might not have seen in their racing career,” says Stanton. “But [as racing dogs] they receive a lot of handling, so they’re generally very good to deal with.” Then, it’s about finding the perfect home for the dog; some are better than others with small children and cats, and others thrive with a fellow greyhound companion.
“At the moment there’s a huge number of people wanting to adopt greyhounds,” says Stanton. Last year, GAP found homes for over 800 ‘retired’ dogs. Stanton attributes the rise in interest to GAP’s visits to events like the Royal Melbourne Show, which has helped to break down some of the misconceptions about greyhounds as pets. “They’re very quiet, well-mannered and low-maintenance dogs... friendly, lazy, calm and clean. They’re so affectionate. They love to lie on the couch and lie on you, getting cuddles and pats.”
"They love to lie on the couch getting cuddles and pats"
Undoubtedly, the increased interest also comes from the negative press greyhound racing has received in recent times; the Four Corners exposé on live baiting and NSW premier Mike Baird’s banning (then backflipping) on racing up north, in particular. Stanton doesn’t see the ban happening in Victoria any time soon; instead, the industry here has injected millions of dollars of extra funding into animal welfare and the expansion of GAP. Soon, GAP will open a sister site in Mount Mercer, “to allow us to bring more dogs into the program”.
Debate aside on whether greyhound racing should be banned, Stanton’s main objective is to spread the word about the joys of owning a greyhound. “The breed brings joy and kindness into the adopter’s lives – they make people connect.”
“There was a young guy, 15 years of age by the name of Jordan. He suffered from a mild mental illness that affected his learning. He was really struggling at the time and their family made the decision to adopt Monty. Monty became Jordan’s best friend and it really helped his personal development. It changed it life. It just gives you goosebumps, the impact greyhounds have on people.”
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