The Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) is the best 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 also conducts regular off-site testing days at a number of tracks around Victoria.
Greyhounds that are adopted via the program undergo a thorough temperament assessment to ensure that they are not predatory towards small dogs and that they are safe to go un-muzzled in public. Some greyhounds that enter the program will require behavioural modification training prior to adoption – this may include inhouse socialisation with other breeds of dogs, or time spent in foster care.
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 up to 4 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 maximise the chances of an adoption working well. Staff assess a potential adopter’s 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.
All registered owners must 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 contact GRV’s Racing Services team to book into a GAP pre-entry assessment session.
Some ways to prepare your greyhound before attending a GAP testing day:
Ensure the greyhound has a current C5 vaccination, where the Kennel Cough component has been delivered intranasally or orally within the last 6 months but no less than ten days prior to assessment.
Afford the greyhound as much time out of work/away from racing as possible – 28 days is the minimum requirement for GAP but 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 to smaller dogs. Both dogs should always be on-leash and the greyhound should always be muzzled during this socialisation 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 backyard 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 easily handled. Greyhounds need to be able to walk on a leash and be familiar with 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 is deemed as unsuitable for rehoming through GAP?
Greyhounds are allowed to be represented 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 be more suitable for adoption at a later stage. In most cases, the greyhounds will be deemed as presently unsuitable for entry into GAP because they are overly ‘keen’ when they see the small dog moving around and go to chase and grab at them. Obviously, if the greyhound is a pet, and is un-muzzled at the local park with a novice owner this is not a safe behaviour. Many 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 realise that they are not a prey species. More gradual exposure and socialisation 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 re-homed, but the dog will be required to be on leash and we would recommend they wear a muzzle in public in the same way that racing dogs are.