BY Selina Bell
On average, five dogs will die every week on the racetrack in Australia. On top of this incredulous number, thousands are injured each year due to the conditions forced upon these race dogs, including heart attacks, heat stroke, electrocution, broken backs, legs and necks. However, this only includes reported incidents; countless more deaths and injuries within Australia go unreported and remain unaccounted for.
In July 2017, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) discovered at least 12 Greyhounds used for racing tested positive to cocaine. This is not the first time Greyhounds have been subject to administration of illegal drugs, simply for monetary gain.
Greyhound racing originated from coursing, the activity of setting dogs onto animals for human entertainment. This later developed into the racing we see today. Although coursing has been banned, in many respects, the racing industry has adopted much of its aggressiveness, with little regard for the wellbeing and safety of its animals.
Greyhounds are forced to race in extreme conditions, unsuited for their bodies, and when not racing, they are often kept in appalling conditions. Many are subject to being kept confined in small crates and constantly muzzled, to the point of injury and external and internal infestations.
For years, since knowledge of the treatment of animals in this sport has surfaced, many people have cried out for Greyhound racing to be stopped. However, it’s not easy to tackle a huge worldwide money-making industry.
It was, however, the stacked-up evidence concerning animal welfare, which prompted the ACT to pass their controversial legislation banning Greyhound racing.
The legislation declared to completely outlaw Greyhound racing and trialling by June 2018, with a maximum penalty of a $15,000 fine or 1-year imprisonment. It would also be illegal to bet on Greyhound racing in other states. However, under certain conditions in the ACT, the breeding, owning and registering of Greyhounds will still be legalised.
This sports industry does not only affect race dogs, but compromises the welfare of many other animals. Live baiting is the practice of using live animals in training. The bait animals are tied, alive, to mechanical lures and flung around tracks, often at neck and spine breaking high speeds, while being chased, and eventually killed, by the race dogs. It is illegal in all states and territories in Australia, however, incidences continue to occur.
After a Four Corners report in 2015 revealed leaked footage of piglets, possums and rabbits being used for illegal live baiting, the debates to end Greyhound racing exploded in both NSW and the ACT.
NSW premier Mike Baird reversed the October 2016 decision to ban Greyhound racing, despite the communities overwhelming support. However, the debate was still very much alive and intense across the ACT.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay presented data to the legislative assembly, with evidence that not all dogs are rehomed after ‘retiring’ from racing, and almost half simply disappear, with their fate unknown.
“These statistics illustrate a very real concern that the [Canberra Greyhound Racing Club] is not living up to its public commitment to a 100 per cent rehoming rate,” he said.
It became apparent that due to the Greyhound racing industry, the safety of Greyhounds was no prioritised, with up to 40% of puppies being killed or dumped immediately due to “selective breeding”.
The dogs are treated like disposable machines; nine out of ten are killed because they aren’t fast enough to make money. A recent incident saw a puppy being killed by its trainer with a hammer. Others are simply abandoned.
Ex-racing Greyhounds can be adopted or fostered until they find a good home. They are very gentle and kind animals. Alternatively, both the organisations listed below accept donations to help support the Greyhounds of Australia.