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Paw and order

Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) recently announced an exciting new partnership with Police Veterans Victoria (PVV) which will reap enormous benefits for both parties.

GAP, and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV), plays a huge role in preparing greyhounds that are no longer suitable for racing for life as a family pet. When they’re ready for retirement they can be perfect for enhancing the lives of police veterans.

PVV CEO David McGowan said it is common for veterans to experience a range of mental health issues once they retire from the police force including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Police Veteran Michelle Fisher, who also happens to be a veteran greyhound adopter and fosterer, spoke about the advantages of having a grey in the home…

Q. What is your history in the police force?

I joined VicPol in 1982 and retired in 2009. I worked in a variety of roles and places. Like all police, I performed general duties at several police stations over many years. I was fortunate enough to be able to work in a number of other areas including the Police Academy as an instructor; within the Magistrates court system as a police prosecutor and at the Major Planning Unit & Media Liaison.

Q. What did your time with the Greyhound Adoption Program entail?

I first got involved with GAP as a foster carer about 10 years ago, and shortly after I started doing some volunteer work at GAP events and adoption days. Sometimes that involved taking a foster dog with me, other times it was just talking to people about greyhounds as pets.

GAP then opened a small adoption centre at Baxter, and I was employed to adopt greyhounds from there on weekends. We were there for about 5 years. And although I am no longer employed by GAP, I am a registered foster carer and still do some other volunteer work.

Q. Do you currently have any greyhounds in your life?

Yes, I do!! Three years ago we adopted our fifty-second foster dog, Rou. We had not intended to adopt but she stole our hearts. She is now 12 and a half years old and much loved by all the family. We are currently fostering a five-year-old GAP dog, Bluey. He is adorable.

Q. Why are you so passionate about greyhounds?

What’s not to love about greyhounds? I’m fascinated in their history that goes back thousands of years.

They are the most beautiful breed of dog… so elegant, and so goofy at the same time.

I still go to the races occasionally – I love that they can race at 60kph then just snooze all day. I am really happy that GRV has an adoption program that gives people the opportunity to have one of these wonderful dogs in their lives.

Q. Why do you think greyhounds are a good match for police veterans?

A lot of veterans I know need a dog that will just be beside them. Sometimes we crave company without conversation, and sometimes we want to be alone, but not lonely.

A greyhound fills that need.

I think after my retirement it could have been easy to become reclusive. Having a greyhound made me get out of the house at least once a day to walk. It also gave me something to think about other than myself and have something to take care of.

Q. Why do greyhounds make great pets?

I believe it is because they make such a great companion dog.

They’re also good listeners and don’t judge you.

They are a dog that wants to be with you but is not in your face demanding attention.

They are affectionate and love to be by your side.

They are generally a quiet dog and low maintenance and easy to groom, and what surprises some people is that they don’t need lots of exercise but do love a quiet walk.

Q. What is the best thing about being a greyhound foster carer?

I love having the variety of dogs in my home. Initially it suited us because we travelled a lot, we planned our fostering around our travel, so we could have the company of a dog when we were home, without having the full-time commitment. I also enjoyed the challenge of assisting the dog adjust to life in a home after racing and watching the dog learn new things. When the dogs go back to GAP it is so heartwarming when you find out they have been adopted. I feel like I have made a contribution – to the dog’s life and to the family that adopts it. It’s a great feeling.

Q. What is the best thing/s about being a GAP volunteer?

Getting the opportunity to work with lots of different dogs. Meeting like-minded people. I like to contribute and help so the dogs find their forever home. The GAP volunteer community is supportive and a wealth of information which helps with managing your own dog. And I find volunteer work to be extremely satisfying and rewarding.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to reach out to other veterans and say just give fostering a go. If it doesn’t suit you, and you only ever foster one dog, you have made a difference. You have helped a dog to find its forever home and given a family or a person an opportunity to have a beautiful pet in their life.

Police veterans will be given immediate priority to be matched with retired greyhounds as companion pets at no cost.

All PVV applications are handled individually by one of the knowledgeable and dedicated GAP staff who will assist throughout the process, and GAP staff will work with the applicant to identify suitable greyhounds for the adopter.

At the point of adoption PAV adopters will receive:

  • Collar, lead and winter jacket
  • 40kg of Royal Canin E4800 kibble (approximately 3 months’ supply)
  • $50 PetStock gift voucher
  • Three weeks’ subsidised boarding @ $33/day
  • Subsidised dental check-up and clean to value of $400
  • Lifetime support
  • And, the current fee to adopt via GAP is waived
  • This represents a total value of over $1,500