Sometimes the simplest ideas seem so obvious in hindsight, and we wonder why we didn't think of them before. That same principle of "make a small change to make a big difference" can be applied to the field of animal welfare, as illustrated in recent recommendations to the Greyhound industry.
A report recommending greyhounds race on straight tracks against fewer opponents has been welcomed by the NSW racing minister, but it’s not clear who would foot the bill for such an overhaul of the industry.
The report, authored by the University of Technology Sydney, made 11 wide-ranging recommendations to improve animal welfare to the sport’s governing body Greyhound Racing NSW.
Chief among the changes proposed is the development of purpose-built straight tracks.
The study catalogued injuries sustained by greyhounds during races – from minor to catastrophic – and mapped where on the track they occurred.
It revealed clusters of injuries around bends.The bends place strain on the greyhounds’ bodies and cause a traffic jam as the pack of dogs slows down to make the turn. That’s a dangerous combination, the report concludes.
“Approximately 80% of all catastrophic and major injuries were caused by congestion and incidents such as checking, collision and galloping,” the report states.
The number of greyhounds in each race should also be reduced from eight to six, it concludes.
The creation of straight tracks may require the purchase of land for development and the running of more short-distance races.