Give Happy, Live Happy. That’s the slogan for this year’s National Volunteer Week, and it certainly rings true for the hundreds of tireless volunteers who are the force behind many greyhound racing clubs and the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP).
During National Volunteer Week, which this year will run from 8-14 May, GAP will proudly acknowledge its magnificent volunteers and their contributions, which have helped the program achieve record adoption numbers over the past year.
People volunteer their time for GAP in a number of ways including showcasing their pet greyhounds at designated events, assisting at Adoption Days and, of course, becoming a foster carer to assist greyhounds in making a smooth transition from racer to pet.
Benalla resident Samantha Hartley (pictured with husband Harry Verbaken and their pet greyhounds 12-year-old Poppy and three-year-old Lincoln) is one of these selfless volunteers and she recently fostered her 100th greyhound, having adopted three of her own along the way.
“We love it, there is no way we could be without fostering,” Ms Hartley said.
After her father passed away in 2005, the Ms Hartley said she needed an ‘outlet’ – something positive to focus on.
“I have always loved animals and I had seen and heard about greyhounds, so I rang GAP and I said what can I do? My husband and I haven’t looked back since,” she said. “I love being able to do something for these dogs, and for the trainers or owners who aren’t able to keep them. It’s a real community out there – greyhound people are a bit like a cult. We’re obsessed with our dogs and that’s what I love.”
GAP Foster Care Manager Emma Cotsell encouraged more people to follow Ms Hartley’s lead. Most greyhounds need further time to adjust to a house environment before they can be adopted, with GAP relying on its foster carers to assist with the process.
“Many greyhounds who are accepted into GAP via pre-assessment still need further adjustment before they can achieve their green collar and find a forever home,” Ms Cotsell said.
Foster carers help to ‘fill the gap’ between racing and retirement, and provide house training and socialisation for each greyhound.
Ms Hartley said greyhounds were growing in popularity as pets and that she and husband Harry were well known at their local cafe, where they take their own greyhounds for a scoop of ice-cream while they have a cup of coffee.
“I’ve met three other families in town with greyhounds and people always come up and stop you. I’ll have a chat about them at every given opportunity,” she said.
Ms Cotsell praised those who assist GAP by volunteering: “It wouldn’t be possible without them.”
If you would like to find out more about volunteering with GAP, visit gap.grv.org.au