As of 1st January 2019, muzzling of pet greyhounds will no longer be a requirement in Victoria.
The requirement for pet greyhounds to be muzzled in public will be removed by way of a Governor-in-Council exemption under the Domestic Animals Act 1994. Such an exemption is already in place for greyhounds registered with Greyhound Racing Victoria's Greyhound Adoption Program. This program is also referred to as the green collar program. In the future, the Domestic Animals Act 1994 will be amended to enshrine this reform in legislation.
Consistent with the shared policy position that focuses on the ‘deed not the breed’ this change has been the result of sustained joint advocacy from the AVA and the RSPCA.
Rehoming greyhounds during their retirement
From an individual perspective, muzzles can have a negative impact on the dog’s welfare. For this reason, veterinarians only recommend their use in individual dogs following a veterinary assessment of their behaviour, and with muzzles that have been specifically fitted to the dog.
Unfortunately, nationally, there is still a requirement for all pet greyhounds to be muzzled in public except for some local council areas in Queensland and in the Northern Territory. This requirement can be an impediment to greyhounds finding forever pet homes after their retirement from racing or breeding. With so many greyhounds looking for forever pet homes, we are hopeful that other states and territories will follow the Victorian example.
Greyhound rehoming organisations are focused on ensuring that only greyhounds that are suited to transitioning to pet life are rehomed. For example, Greyhound Racing Victoria's Greyhound Adoption Program, assesses greyhounds for their health and suitability as a pet prior to rehoming. The program also includes a wind-down period for transitioning racing greyhounds to pet life. This sets up both the greyhound and their new forever owners for a long and happy life together.
The Australian Veterinary Association’s position
Nationally, the AVA has strongly advocated for whole of life welfare provisions for greyhounds. These provisions mean that throughout the breeding, rearing and racing stages, all greyhounds are set up for a happy, healthy pet life post racing. In Victoria, the new Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds, which the AVA heavily contributed to, comes into effect on 1 January 2020 and provides a pathway for greyhound retirement and rehoming. This aims to ensure all greyhounds are well socialised and adjusted to transition to life as a pet, even before they embark on training as a racing greyhound.
Next time you are considering adopting a pet, consider adopting a retired greyhound. They are beautiful companions, they shed very little hair and although it may sound counter-intuitive, greyhounds are happy to lounge around, and often do well in apartment living.
For further information:
Information on muzzling (FAQs) - http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/dogs/greyhounds/faqs-removal-muzzling-requirements-pet-greyhounds
Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds – http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/dogs/greyhounds/code-of-practice
Adopting a greyhound –