Last month Star Observer featured the incredible story of Mumma Zura who took out the Special Drontal Foster Carer Award in the 2020 Jetpets Companion Animal Rescue Awards. The Blue Staffy, under the watchful eye of her dad’s Christopher Melotti and husband Scott nurtured over 200 puppiesThe awards, now in its third year recognise and celebrate outstanding examples of rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of companion animals Australia wide

This month, Star Observer spoke with Newtown local Shelley Tinworth who took out the Volunteer Of The Year award for her work as Volunteer Coordinator at Greyhound Rescue NSW. Shelley, who alongside her wife, care for two ex-racing greyhounds, a whippet and a cat. We began our interview by talking about her love for greyhounds.

I think it’s the unconditional love. With greyhounds most of them have had a pretty crappy start to life, they’ve been bred to race and make money for people, so they haven’t been shown a lot of love. When they come to us, they have been surrendered. It’s just their capacity to give humans another chance that blows me away, they might have only known bad experiences with humans, but that forgiveness, they are just special dogs. When you look into their eyes you are looking into their souls.

We adopted a whippet about eight years ago, and it has to be said I never wanted a dog, we had a cat and I was quite happy. My wife though, was like ‘I want a whippet’ and I was like whatever makes you happy – so we got a whippet.

Through him we then met all these greyhounds by going to dog parks, and that’s when we started talking to people and finding about what they are bred for and all those things. From there we contacted Greyhound Rescue, we started to research it more, and thought what could we do?

“So, we started sponsoring through them, then about five years ago, they said we could do a shift out at the kennels if we liked, I guess it just went from there.”

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 In Australia alone, it’s estimated that over 10,000 greyhound pups are bred each year purely to find a fast runner among so many litters. The horrors of the greyhound racing industry however do not stop there. In recent years increasing media attention has been brought upon such cruel practices as live baiting. The practice sees ananimal tied to a mechanical lure and hurtled at speed around a track while greyhounds are released to pursue and catch them. These small animals in turn suffer horrific pain, fear, injury and distress and eventually die, with the same animals sometimes used repeatedly, leading to prolonged and painful deaths.

This is where places like Greyhound Rescue step in. Winner of this year’s Outstanding Rescue Group award the organisation was established in 2009 to find homes for greyhounds considered surplus to racing industry requirements. So far Greyhound Rescue has re-homed over 1000 greyhounds. Speaking of her time volunteering at Greyhound Rescue, Shelley continues by saying, Volunteering with Greyhound Rescue has been completely life-changing, in the best possible way.

With the greyhounds, you can tell some of them are very timid, sometimes it only takes a motion of your hand for them to cower. Generally, I just find it so rewarding. People sought of said initially ‘How can you go there, it must be really sad?’, but it’s actually not.

“Once they come to Greyhound Rescue, they are safe, they are only going to know love from now on. Because the volunteers that go to look after them are giving up their time and energy, they are genuinely doing it for a love of the animals. Once they come to us, that’s their first step to finding a forever home.

Just being surrounded by people who are on the same page as you ethically, the compassion translates if they’ve got that love for animals, that justice and equality. I guess that feeds back into being gay as well, it’s just nice to be surrounded by those people who think all people should be treated the same.

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 Ask any owner, and they’ll tell you that as far as pets go, greyhounds are hard to beat. But as Shelley adds it’s a big commitment and not one to enter into lightly.

Don’t jump into adopting any animal especially a dog, you want to make sure you are ready. I would also suggest coming and volunteer at the shelter, that’s what happened with us, you get to know the breed, they are like people, you can’t generalise.

“Some have more energy than others, but they don’t need a lot of exercise – despite the common myth, they don’t need a lot of space, they don’t bark nor shed hair. They’re actually like a big cat to be honest, if you are live in apartment, Greyhounds suit them really well.

Pausing for a brief second, Shelley concludes our interview by adding, “It is an absolute honour to spend time with the greyhounds at our rescue centre each week, and know that you are contributing, albeit in a small way, to them finding their loving forever homes, as they all deserve.

For more info on the great work done by Greyhound Rescue you can head to their website.

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