GREYHOUND RACERS FIGHTING BASIC ANIMAL WELFARE REQUIREMENT TO PROVIDE WATER TO DOGS
19 April 2017
Humane Society International (HSI) is astonished greyhound trainers are fighting a new rule to provide greyhounds with water prior to races. In an effort to improve the welfare of competing greyhounds, industry body Greyhound Racing NSW updated their Race Day Hydration and Hot Weather Policy to specify that all dogs be provided with water in their kennels during kennelling on race days. This updated policy came into effect in February and followed a successful trial which proved the positive welfare outcomes for the dogs, particularly during hot summer days.
Greyhound trainers have been contesting the rule, with some calling for it to be overturned*. One NSW trainer in particular has reportedly failed to provide water to his dogs on race days on nine occasions so far. He claims that industry was not consulted when the new policy update was instated and has tried arguing that providing his dogs with water is dangerous. It has even been suggested that the dogs could be injured on the steel buckets the water is provided in.
“The real reason why some trainers are contesting this policy is because providing water to dogs prior to racing can slow them down. This only highlights again that the welfare of their dogs is not their priority, and instead their main concern is to secure a win whatever the cost,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at Humane Society International.
HSI believes that providing water is a basic welfare requirement that should have been set in the rules from the start, particularly when dogs can be held in their small kennels on race days for several hours. Dehydration is a serious welfare concern, particularly during warmer months, and can lead to conditions such as hyperthermia, muscle cramping and acidosis.
Ms Beynon continued, “It is greyhound racing that presents the danger to the dogs and not drinking water. On review of the Policy we see that it does not specify for a ‘stainless steel bucket’ to be provided which they argue could represent a danger. Instead it states that the greyhound handler presents a clean bowl capable of holding a minimum of 250ml of water. Surely the risk of injury from a water bowl is greatly outweighed by the risks of dehydration for a dog potentially deprived of a drink for several hours.”
Since the government’s backflip HSI was hoping to see great improvements by an industry in reform, but so far many welfare improvements are being contested, and our figures have revealed higher injury and euthanasia rates of the dogs. “The NSW Government is kidding itself if it thinks the animal welfare problems in this industry can be regulated away. Greyhound racing is inherently cruel because profit will always override the welfare of the dogs involved,” concluded Ms Beynon.
* ‘Irwin determined to fight water rule despite suspension’ – Australian Racing Greyhound, 13th April 2017 (https://australianracinggreyhound.com/australian-greyhound-racing/new-south-wales-greyhound-racing/irwin-determined-to-fight-water-rule-despite-suspension/87613)