Wildlife advocate and social media star Ben Dessen has pleaded with people to adopt greyhounds, describing them as gorgeous, often misunderstood creatures. And he says the breed most famous for speed are actually cuddly couch potatoes and make wonderful family pets.
Dessen’s plea comes as more greyhounds are in need of a home than ever before, with animal adoptions across Australia dropping to less than half last year’s rate. Greyhound Rescue president Nat Panzarino said the waiting list of greyhounds leaving the racing industry was the longest it had ever been.
“We are now looking at a six-month wait for us to take them in and some simply won’t last that long,” Ms Panzarino said. While Greyhound Rescue has a no-kill policy, Ms Panzarino said the sad fact is many greyhounds on the waiting list face the risk of being euthanised before they can find a new home.
“We are always operating at capacity but our intake list has never been this long,” she said. “We are also fielding more calls from other rescue groups and pounds, who are struggling to keep up.
“Currently there are more than 170 hounds on the waiting list to come to us and we are getting more phone calls to surrender every day. For many industry participants it is a continuous cycle, as soon as we take in their hounds they have more to add to the waiting list.”
Greyhound Rescue last year rehomed 255 greyhounds but Ms Panzarino said: “Adoption rates have plummeted.” While dog ownership in Australia rose 47 per cent between 2019 and 2021, according to a recent report, the end of lockdowns and rising cost-of-living pressures are quickly reversing that trend.
Dessen’s plea comes as Greyhound Rescue launches its Noodles4Noodles fundraising and education campaign, which runs through October.
Greyhound Rescue, is an independent Sydney-based charity that ethically rescues, lovingly rehabilitates, and safely rehomes greyhounds no longer wanted by the racing industry. For many of these beautiful animals, Greyhound Rescue is their first experience of human kindness.
The charity, which relies on donations and more than 200 volunteers to undertake its important work, also needs a new home. It is fundraising to turn the old goat shed its team has been working out of into a proper office and rehabilitation space at its Greysland base.
“I love the work that Greyhound Rescue does to educate people about how special and unique these amazing dogs are and provide so many greyhounds with a loving forever home,” Dessen, who runs a not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary, said.
“Greyhounds are a breed that may be sometimes misunderstood or overlooked but one of the things I love most about greyhounds is their gentle and calm nature. They are incredibly affectionate dogs. Despite being a breed used for racing, greyhounds are couch potatoes! Many people are surprised to find greyhounds are a low-energy breed and can even be suited to families with smaller backyards.”
Dessen says dogs have always played a special part in his life and, while he already has a dog, he would certainly consider adopting a greyhound in future. Greyhounds have been the chosen pets of Cleopatra and Tutankhamen, George Washington, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, Frank Sinatra, Brad Pitt, Twiggy, and GR ambassador Ash London.
Dessen strongly advocates for dog rescue to provide a pooch with “a second chance and a loving forever home … Greyhounds certainly make wonderful companions and are definitely a breed that I would encourage more families to consider”.
With three small children and three rescue greyhounds – or “Noodles” – in her household, Ms Panzarino agrees they “make excellent family pets for those who are willing to put the effort into making sure they feel safe and loved”.
“Greyhound Rescue provides a lot of support to adopters,” the children’s book author said, adding greyhounds are “low-maintenance as far as dogs go, requiring little exercise and next to no grooming”.
“People think they need a lot of exercise but that could not be further from the truth – most greyhounds are huge couch potatoes and many make perfect apartment dogs.”
Ms Panzarino said The Noodle Hub will be a modest but vital new building: “We need to upgrade to help more hounds. They have had a very different start in life to most dogs and as a breed they have their own quirks. The Noodle Hub will be the centre of our rehabilitation and rehoming activities, where we organise medical care, develop rehabilitation plans, search for homes, and where our Noodles will meet their new forever families.”
She said the Noodles4Noodles cookbook “is a novelty and not intended to replace a regular balanced diet, however it is important to provide enrichment to hounds and this is a fun activity for both hounds and humans”.
“It encourages the hound to try new things and allows for interaction with their humans,” she said. And, when not stretched out on the couch, interacting with humans is what greyhounds do best.
“Greyhounds have a special magic about them,” Ms Panzarino said. “A greyhound’s capacity to love is incredible. They have so much love to give and watching them come into their own as they find joy in their new life is just incredibly rewarding.”
To donate, go to: https://chuffed.org/project/noodles4noodles