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 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. Some greyhounds that enter the program will also 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 maximise the chances of a successful adoption. Staff assess a potential adopter’s expectations, lifestyle and requirements, including whether or not they already have other pets. Adopters are then paired with 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.
The Victoria Government recently changed the laws requiring greyhounds to be muzzled in public. Effective 1 January 2019, all greyhound pet owners in Victoria can choose to walk their greyhounds in public without a muzzle. (Note: greyhounds are still required to be on a lead at all times.) Prior to this, only greyhounds who had successfully passed the Greyhound Adoption Program and were wearing a GAP Green Collar were permitted to be in public muzzle free.
GAP will continue to have green collar assessments on all greyhounds available for adoption through the program and will provide a special GAP Green Collar to show the greyhound has successfully passed the program.
Racing greyhound owners are expected to plan 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 will need to contact GRV to book a GAP pre-entry assessment.
Some ways to prepare your greyhound before attending a GAP testing day:
Ensure the greyhound is fully vaccinated at least 10 days prior to the testing day, as per the requirements on http://gap.grv.org.au/about-gap/intake-model/.
Afford the greyhound as much time out of work/away from racing as possible – it is a minimum of 28 days 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. Both dogs during the interaction 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 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 fails the GAP test?
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 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 not muzzled at the local park with a novice owner this is not safe behaviour! 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 realise they are not a rabbit or other prey species. So in some cases, 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 and should always wear a muzzle in public. You can still arrange privately for your greyhound to be re-homed, but the greyhound should be muzzled and on leash in the same way that racing dogs are.