WITH his shiny black coat and charming smile, Basil the greyhound is nothing short of a gentleman.

But unfortunately, like other greyhounds in his position, he's becoming a permanent fixture at the shelter.

The number of greyhounds in shelters is showing no sign of slowing, prompting RSPCA staff and volunteers to bring awareness of the issue to the community, and ease the concerns of citizens over the somewhat misunderstood dogs.

The Coffs Harbour RSPCA is preparing more than 10 greyhounds for adoption, and over the past six months it has cared for more than 20. The canines go through intensive assessments by the RSPCA to find out whether they are fit for adoption.

"Our training and rehab team has been very busy," shelter manager Sue Merrick said.

"We have to know whether they are able to socialise with other dogs, what their suitability is to be around cats and children.

"We have to assess them thoroughly to make sure they're safe to put out there, so some of the dogs that have already gone to their homes are some of the most beautiful animals you can possibly have."

Ms Merrick does however admit where there's smoke there's fire, but the community has no reason to be cautious adopting the greyhounds from the shelter. Not only have they gone through the assessments, but they are deemed as unsuitable for racing and have a "low drive".

"The greyhound either can be a nightmare to own, or it can be the most easiest dog you've ever owned. It just depends on how much drive they have. Unfortunately, to be a good racing dog, they need to have a lot of drive and that does not equate to being suitable as a pet."

Pet greyhounds can also undertake an approved re-training program and gain their "green collar", which means they do not have to wear a muzzle in public.

"All of our adoption dogs have not been green collared but they would pass easily as they are absolutely fabulous, and with the assessments we do we have the confidence that they are very safe," Ms Merrick said.

Another common misconception regarding pet greyhounds is that they are dogs that need a lot of exercise.

"These are the dogs that like to sleep on the lounge, love a comfortable bed and are happy doing nothing."

Over the past weekend, RSPCA shelters around the country held the Clear the Shelter sale, which left a total of 90% of animals sold. In Coffs Harbour, a total of 14 or 70% of animals were adopted.

For now, Basil has not been adopted and is one of seven pets left, as he is incompatible with cats.

Contact the local RSPCA on (02) 6651 3311 for more information on adopting a greyhound.



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