I think it’s now clear to participants and other stakeholders that Victoria’s greyhound industry is now changing permanently. It’s no longer just racing with some animal welfare programs attached. Instead it must be about the whole lifecycle of every Victorian greyhound, on and off the track. I am confident that real reform can be achieved in the sport of greyhound racing but only if it’s driven by genuine cultural change in how we manage the careers and lives of the greyhounds, and in particular that we are able to fully re-home all greyhounds other than for medical or temperament issues.
We need to extend racing opportunities for all dogs as currently the average career for a Victorian greyhound lasts only 1 year 9 months, with only 30 starts. It’s now not just about rearing to race but now also about rearing to re-home. This leadership on cultural change must come from participants within the sport and I have been very encouraged by the commitment to this issue as demonstrated by participants at the recently concluded series of Stakeholder Engagement Workshops. They were very productive and we learnt much from the workshops. The workshop program will be followed this month by regional workshops in Shepparton, Warrnambool and Traralgon.
One key animal welfare issue is current injury rates at the racetrack which are far too high. All the Clubs have now come up with plans, based on injury data supplied by GRV and ideas put forward at the Stakeholder Engagement Workshops, to improve track safety. As these plans are implemented GRV will conduct a quarterly review of all tracks to monitor and measure how effective these plans are at reducing injury rates. GRV will also contact trainers whose dogs are experiencing higher than average injuries to resolve any issues that are triggering these higher rates.
In another move to reduce injury rates, GRV is phasing in the hoop arm lure over next six months at all 12 Victorian circle tracks following trials over the past year. Test data from the trials clearly shows the hoop arm produces cleaner and safer racing by reducing interference and injuries in races, with trials at the Meadows alone showing a 37% drop in injuries. You can read more about the new hoop arm lure in this issue of Greyhound Monthly Victoria.
Also covered in this issue is the new Draft Guidelines for Racing Dog Keeping and Training Facilities in Victoria, being developed by Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. These draft guidelines cover a range of issues and propose new permit exemptions if greyhound facilities meet various zoning requirements. They are a significant step forward in providing a very positive and clearly understood framework to enable greyhound racing participants achieve compliance. The public consultation process is now finishing up and GRV will keep participants informed about the further development and implementation of the new guidelines.
Finally, in racing news, GRV and Healesville Greyhound Racing Club are now working on presenting a second weekly race meeting at Healesville. This will provide more racing opportunities for dogs and give them more experience of running on straight tracks.
This spring will again be a very busy time for GRV and will see a range of new animal welfare initiatives rolled out along with new marketing campaigns for the spring and summer racing calendar. I look forward to working with you as the industry continues on its journey of reform.
Chief Executive Officer
Greyhound Racing Victoria