Greyhound safety at the forefront

Dr ANNA SMET is the animal welfare manager at Racing and Wagering WA. In today’s Speaker’s Corner she rejects last week’s “Grey area” by animal lover Andrea Pollard who said not enough has been done to protect racing greyhounds from life-threatening injuries.

AS the state’s principal racing authority, Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) is committed to ensuring that the best levels of care are given to greyhounds in WA, throughout all stages of their lives. 

In line with this commitment, we appreciate the opportunity to address some of the common misconceptions regarding our industry, and the continuation of racing in WA during the outbreak of Covid-19. 

With most other sports having to pause their activity, we are grateful that we are able to safely operate during this challenging time, safeguarding the livelihoods of our greyhound industry participants.  

As racing is a non-contact sport, strict bio-security and hygiene measures in place across racecourses and at trainers’ private properties have permitted the continuation of racing in WA. 

Measures currently in place have seen a range of changes being applied to race day practices, in addition to restricting access to essential personnel only and enforcing strict hygiene and social distancing practices. These risk mitigation measures and more, are strictly enforced by compliance support officers. 

On and off the track, RWWA applies its ‘Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds’, which outlines the expectations for the physical and behavioural care of greyhounds. The code is enforced by RWWA’s stewards who carry out regular and unannounced inspections of trainers’ properties, as well as at every race meeting in WA. 

For example, the Code states that all greyhounds must receive appropriate veterinary care, both at the track and at home, including all greyhounds being checked prior to every race by a veterinarian.

The pursuit of improvements in injury recovery support for racing greyhounds has ensured that even for the very small proportion of greyhounds sustaining major injuries while racing (0.5 per cent) appropriate care is available.

These injury recovery schemes include two options for trainers and owners; the first offers financial assistance to cover the cost of veterinary treatments, or alternatively they are able to sign over the ownership of the greyhound to RWWA, where all veterinary costs are paid for, and once recovered the greyhound is rehomed.

In WA, the Rules of Racing state that all healthy and behaviourally sound greyhounds must be rehomed, and RWWA is committed to promoting greyhounds as the wonderful pets that they are. 

RWWA heavily invests in its Greyhounds as Pets (GAP) rehoming facility in Southern River, along with financially supporting another local rehoming agency. 

Whilst a range of welfare initiatives are in place, RWWA continues to work with the wider industry to explore initiatives to further improve greyhound welfare in our State.

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