By ALLISON HORE
A shocking report has revealed hundreds of greyhounds died on race tracks across the country in 2020.
The report, released by the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds analysed data from thousands of official stewards’ reports from across the nation. The data they collected reveals last year there were 202 on-track deaths across the country.
In NSW alone there were 48 dog deaths and 2,821 injuries documented in official stewards’ reports. Mark Pearson, NSW Animal Justice Party MLC, said the number of officially reported greyhound deaths and injuries was alarming, and painted a grim picture for what the actual number of deaths may be.
“If those are official numbers from the tracks, just imagine how many dogs were killed off the track,” he said.
“Year after year, the horrors continue – even if they’re not uncovered. This cruelty won’t end until the industry is shut down for good.”
According to the report, at Sydney’s Wentworth Park there were 259 injuries and 2 deaths throughout 2020. The deadliest race track in the state was in Richmond, North West of Sydney, where 7 dogs died.
The most commonly reported fatal injury was leg fractures, with this kind of injury accounting for 87 percent of all deaths across the country.
Many of these fractures are repairable, the report says, but at a cost of around $4,000. Even when the injury is not repairable greyhounds are able to live healthy and active lives on three legs. However, despite rebates for treatments being available, the report claims many industry practitioners “choose to euthanise young and otherwise healthy greyhounds.”
On top of the on track injuries and resulting deaths, in NSW a further 350 greyhounds were put down through medical euthanasia procedures away from the race track.
Funding falls flat
In 2017 the NSW government announced they would be allocating $30 million in funding over the next five years to help the greyhound racing industry “improve animal welfare including track upgrades to reduce injury risks.” So far $7.2 million of that funding has been spent.
Despite the report showing that deaths and injuries on the race track continue in high numbers, a new racing track is proposed for the Tweed region in Northern NSW. A petition sponsored by Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith in opposition to the new track has been created. The petition needs to reach 20,000 signatures by the 27th of May for the issue to be debated in Parliament.
Alex Greenwich, member for Sydney, supports the petition. He said though the NSW Government is committed to ending greyhound racing at Wentworth Park, the fact new race tracks are being proposed shows there are no plans to end the practise entirely.
“The government’s commitment to close the greyhound racing track at Wentworth Park when its lease ends in 2027 may be a win for public open space but it does not represent any winding back of this archaic industry,” he said.
To open up more green space for public use, the NSW Government’s Pyrmont Place Place Strategy creates a pathway for Wentworth Park to be “returned to the people” and transformed into a mixed-use green space. A far cry from ending greyhound racing entirely, the government said they will talk to key stakeholders to identify a suitable alternative site for greyhound racing.
Australia is one of only 8 countries in the world that allows greyhound racing and Wentworth park is just one of the 65 recognised racing venues across the country.