Lorraine Ramsay has won Hope 103.2’s ‘Hopeland Volunteer of the Year’ award, for her tireless work rescuing greyhounds and connecting them with loving carers—including detainees in the Juvenile Justice system.
Lorraine Ramsay is a woman with a lot of love to give.
She’s not only spent her career helping others in Juvenile Justice centres and as a paramedic; she also spends every spare moment (and dollar) rehabilitating greyhounds destined for cruel deaths in the gambling industry.
Lorraine’s the founder of Rescued Greyhounds NSW Central Coast, and has won the honour of being Hope 103.2’s inaugural ‘Hopeland Volunteer of the Year’ to mark National Volunteers Week 2016.
A Cruel Death For 17,000 Young Dogs Each Year
Every year in Australia, 17,000 greyhounds are put to death when they become injured as a result of greyhound racing. That’s around 47 dogs per day. Sadly, 96 percent of Australia’s greyhounds don’t live to the age of four. Lorraine Ramsay first discovered this tragic situation when she started fostering cats and dogs for a local pet rescue group on the NSW Central Coast.
“I had a couple of pet greyhounds many years ago, so I had an idea of what wonderful pets they made, but never knew at the time what their plight was, until I started doing pet rescue,” she said.
“Along came an injured greyhound who was going to be put down by its owner because of an injury. A member of the pet rescue group was at the vet at the time and and asked if they could to take her in.
“Then after the rescue vet rehabilitated her, I was asked to foster her and continue her treatment. The wound took nearly four months to heal, so I became very fond of her in that time and adopted her.”
‘I Get Phone Calls Nearly Every Day’
Pretty soon, Lorraine was getting calls from other vets asking her take in greyhounds sent to them for euthanasing. A few years on, the calls are still coming, and Lorraine never says no.
“I get phone calls nearly every day about taking greyhounds,” she said. “Sometimes they have to wait for me to be able to take them. They all come through my own home. I have a few really good foster carers who help, and I find homes for them with families looking for a pet.”
Lorraine’s self-funded and has a no-kill policy, which means she often has several dogs in her care; currently there’s 15 furry friends living with her, waiting for a permanent home.
They’ve been sent to a range of different owners, including families with autistic children, where the greyhounds become a kind of therapy dog for the children. Another has become a companion dog in an assisted living home.
Greyhounds ‘Gentle’ and ‘Serene’ by Nature
Lorraine’s dog food bills add up to about $300 a week and she estimates that half her wages go into dog-related groceries and vet bills. But she wouldn’t have it any other way, and sings high praises of Australia’s most misunderstood dog.
Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are peaceful animals that are good with children—not the vicious animals they’ve become known as. They’re also intelligent, quiet, get on well with other animals, and don’t shed a lot of hair.
“They don’t need a lot of exercise, and they’re far from vicious.”
“Because they have to wear muzzles in public, the public perception of greyhounds is that is that they’re a vicious dog that needs a lot of exercise,” Lorraine said. “But they don’t need a lot of exercise, and they’re far from vicious. They’re actually very gentle and serene.”
The law requiring the dogs to wear muzzles in public dates back to the 1930s.
“Muzzling is an old outdated law, and a couple of states have repealed it already,” Lorraine said. “it was put in place because greyhounds used to be used for ‘coursing’. People would ‘blood’ them or bait them with live animals, then set them loose to chase and catch rabbits. But they’re no threat to humans.”
Teaching Juvenile Offenders To Nurture And Love
As an employee in the Juvenile Justice system, Lorraine saw an opportunity to bring love to both the greyhounds, and the struggling youths in her care, by linking them together.
She wrote and facilitated a two-week pilot program in the April school holidays, and it was a ‘huge success’.
“I’m so proud of the boys. They were so gentle with them.”
“I selected three young teenagers, and took three greyhounds in to meet them,” she said. “I taught them a bit about the breed and about pet care, grooming, feeding and teeth cleaning. I then I let the boys lead them, groom them, and go in the football fields and run with them. A couple of times we let the greyhounds loose, as they boys love to see them run free.”
She said her aim was to bring out the nurturing side of the young men.
“Juveniles in detention don’t really have anything to nurture, and that’s such an important part of everybody’s life,” she said. “I’m so proud of the boys. They were so gentle with them.”
She’s now written a long-term program that she hopes will be established on an ongoing basis.
Gaming Industry Treats Greyhounds as a ‘Commodity’ Says Lorraine
Greyhound is now a $4 billion industry with more than 300,000 dogs running in races each year. While the popular belief is that the industry is no longer cruel, an ABC Four Corners report called Making A Killing revealed otherwise.
It reported how some trainers subject their dogs to great cruelty in order to win races, practices that according to Four Corners would “shock even the most hardened viewer”.
“The cruelty inflicted on them is just endless. They’re treated so badly and killed in huge numbers”
The dogs often become injured when they crash into each other on the bends of the greyhound race tracks. Injured dogs are usually put down as they are hard to rehabilitate and probably will never race again. Lorraine believes they’re treated as nothing more than a commodity in the racing industry.
“They’re subjected to extreme cruelty,” she said. “They’re bludgeoned, hung, shot, thrown in shark infested waters, starved, dumped—the cruelty inflicted on them is just endless. Greyhounds don’t come under normal protections of the Companion Animals Act unless they are registered as pets. That’s why they can be treated so badly and killed in huge numbers.”
Hopeland’s First Volunteer Of The Year
As the inaugural winner of Hopeland Volunteer of the Year, Lorraine was given a gift hamper with goodies for herself, and goodies for her dogs.
Thanks to Pet Barn Australia for their donation of pet supplies.