The Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) is the most well known of GRV’s initiatives aimed at finding loving family homes for greyhounds who have retired from the racetrack.
GAP operates out of a purpose built facility located 90 minutes north of Melbourne’s CBD in the town of Seymour, but to make getting your greyhound into the program easier, GAP conducts regular off-site testing days at a number of tracks around Victoria.
Greyhounds that have successfully passed through the Greyhound Adoption Program are awarded a specially numbered, green collar that means they are exempt from the law that greyhounds must wear a muzzle at all times when in public.
Greyhounds that are adopted via the GAP program undergo a thorough temperament assessment to ensure that they are safe around small dogs, and that they are safe to go un-muzzled in public with a novice pet owner. Most greyhounds that enter the program will undergo a period of foster care prior to adoption. During the foster period volunteers located across Victoria offer their homes and their time to assist the greyhounds with their transition from the track and life in a kennel environment to life in a family home. Our award winning, Prison Pet Partnership, also sees inmates at two of Victoria’s minimum security prisons act as foster carers, with the greyhounds living on-site for 6 weeks whilst they undergo training and socialisation.
Once a greyhound is ready for adoption, they are carefully matched with a potential home – with staff aiming to minimise the chances of an adoption failing. Staff assess a potential adopters expectations, lifestyle and requirements, including whether or not they already have other pets. Adopters are then paired to a greyhound that is most likely to meet their expectations. As not all greyhounds are cat-tolerant, there can sometimes be a wait for those adopters that have pet cats, but there is always the option of fostering a greyhound with the view to adopt.
GRV encourages all owners to seriously consider the ‘end of career’ options for their greyhounds. It may be that you plan to keep your greyhound as a pet yourself, or may have family members who are interested in providing your greyhound with a ‘forever’ home. If this is not an option for you, then we would ask that you seriously consider the Adoption Program and contact the GAP staff for more information about getting involved.
Some ways to prepare your greyhound before attending a GAP testing day:
Ensure the greyhound has a current C5 vaccination (done in the last twelve months, and at least ten days prior to assessment).
Afford the greyhound as much time out of work/away from racing as possible – the greater the time between stopping racing and being assessed, the more likely your greyhound is to pass.
If you are able to do so safely, gradually expose the greyhound to other breeds of dog in a positive manner. Start with large dogs (greyhounds are usually quite comfortable around dogs of a similar size) and work your way down. Dogs should always be on lead and the greyhound should always be muzzled during this socialization to make sure everyone stays safe.
Where possible allow your greyhound some time in a home environment rather than the kennel environment. Let them spend time in a back yard environment and allow them some supervised access into the house to acclimatise them to a home environment.
If the greyhound has never raced, make sure it can be handled. Greyhounds need to be able to walk on lead and be familiar to being in a car or trailer. If the greyhound has never been off your property, the more exposure you can give him to people other than yourself (both adults and children) the easier it will be for him to cope when he comes to GAP.
What if my greyhound fails the GAP test?
Greyhounds are allowed to be re-presented at a later stage for another assessment. GAP staff will be able to give you some advice on things you can do to help your greyhound potentially pass at a later stage. In most cases, the greyhounds will fail because they are overly ‘keen’ when they see the small dog moving around and go to chase and grab at him. Obviously if the greyhound is a pet, and is un-muzzled at the local park with a novice owner this is not a safe behavior! Some greyhounds will improve in their reaction once they have had more time away from training and racing and have had the opportunity to meet more small dogs and realize they are not a rabbit or other prey species. So in some cases more gradual exposure and socialization may help the greyhound pass next time.
Some greyhounds will never be totally safe around small dogs, but this does not mean they cannot be a pet, it just means they won’t qualify for a green GAP collar. You can still arrange privately for your greyhound to be homed, but it will be required to muzzled and on leash in the same way that racing dogs are.