The NSW greyhound industry has proactively taken the next steps to ensure its recent outstanding rehoming success will continue on an upward curve.
The first day of the two-day summit - a joint initiative of Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) and the Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission (GWIC) - looked at a range of new rehoming initiatives, including a revolutionary “Pension Plan” designed to provide care across the lifetime of a greyhound and specific campaigns to target potential adopters across demographics.
The entire day’s focus on rehoming at the Bathurst Summit, is a clear indicator that the industry will not rest on its continued success with rehoming its greyhounds following their racing careers.
GRNSW only recently announced that a new record of 2,202 greyhounds had been rehomed in FY 2022-23. That figure not only surpassed the year’s target set by the industry at 2,100, but continued the surge in rehoming over the past five years.
Since FY18-19, rehoming numbers have grown by 202%, climbing from 729 greyhounds in FY18-19 to 2,202 greyhounds in FY22-23, as the industry continues to put its full focus on transitioning greyhounds into home life as a pet after racing.
GRNSW Chief Executive Officer Mr Rob Macaulay declared the Summit had provided a vital source of new information and new ideas to continue to look at all possible and available pathways for rehoming, and that a multi-stakeholder taskforce will now be formed to look further into the proposed initiatives.
“Our figures clearly show the resounding success and growth we have had with rehoming our dogs after their racing careers, but like all things in this world if you want continued success you cannot stand still and must always be looking for new initiatives,” Mr Macaulay said.
“We have certainly done that in the past 10 months having successfully explored and initiated programs with the Police Association of NSW, the Australian Federal Police Association, and the very successful US Adoption Program, and its offshoot, the partnership with the Fraternal Order of Police in the US.
“As an industry we must always be looking at all opportunities to find loving homes for our animals, and ultimately show just what wonderful pets greyhounds make.
“Rehoming of our retired greyhounds will continue to be one of the most important focus areas of our sport.”
A number of major new and innovative components to enhance rehoming, including a signature document, Best Practice Guidelines for Rehoming, developed by the industry’s Animal Welfare Committee, were tabled during the day.
As the GRNSW’s United States rehoming program has shown, participants at the Summit agreed that to meet the future demand for rehoming, the industry needs to reach new markets, both at home and abroad.
Further campaigns will be considered to reach potential adopters in inner city Sydney, particularly men and women in their 30s and 40s, alongside a broader approach to rebrand greyhounds, and to debunk the myths about a companion greyhound after life on the track.
Another proposed plan for the future is increased and advanced training for participants in how they prepare their greyhounds in transitioning from life as an athlete to life as a pet.
While yet to be formalised, the Pet Pension would act as a retirement policy that can be built during a dog’s racing career, which can support the greyhound post racing.
Chief Commissioner of the Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission, Mr Alby Taylor, said he was delighted the summit provided solid outcomes to assist the industry fulfil its obligation to provide loving and caring forever homes for greyhounds once they retire from racing.
“Welcoming greyhounds into homes – and hearts – after they leave racing is a major focus for the industry, and the collective exchange of ideas the summit facilitated will help us to better do that,” Mr Taylor said.
“Taking proactive steps with rehoming by exploring new markets and considering innovative, novel ideas like a “pension for pups” is a crucial step in future proofing our sport.
“But most importantly, it will ensure we continue to promote and protect the welfare of our wonderful greyhounds and ensure they can live their best lives.”
Day two of the Summit will look closely at Prohibited Substances.