Greyhound injuries increase on Western Australian racetracks

More than 50 greyhounds have suffered fractures on Western Australian tracks this year caused from racing.

Industry steward reports show over the past three years 80 greyhounds on average fractured bones each year on Western Australian tracks.

Busselton Greyhound Awareness founder Jacky Kemp said the group were left feeling disturbed following another incident at the Cannington racetrack on June 15, 2020.

A two-year old male greyhound named Disastrous fell during race two fracturing five bones in his body, he was subsequently euthanised.

Ms Kemp said this year's fractures included nine phalangeal bones; five tails; 27 hocks; three ulnas; four scapulas and three carpals.

"Then there's Disastrous which fractured his radius/ulna and carpal bones in both forelegs plus a left humerus fracture," she said.

"The greyhound community are concerned about this increase in fractures."

Ms Kemp said they acknowledged efforts by Racing and Wagering WA and the state government for reducing the number of greyhounds that were euthanised by introducing regulations

"The WA industry euthanised 37 dogs track side in 2017, 35 in 2018 and 21 in 2019. So far this year, two dogs have been euthanised track side," she said

"This is due to the Greyhound Injury Surgery Rebate that provides owners of eligible injured dogs financial support to treat injuries that would have otherwise resulted in euthanasia.

"There is also the Greyhound Injury Full Recovery Scheme in which the ownership of an eligible injured dog is transferred to RWWA's Greyhounds' pets program where a dog is treated at RWWA's expense, then rehabilitated and rehomed.

"So far this year, 25 dogs injured with fractures have entered the GIFRS, three of those dogs have died."

While the group applauded any measures put in place by the racing industry to take greater responsibility for the injuries caused by racing and to reduce euthanasia, they still felt what was happening was inhumane.

"By the years end, we estimate more than 60 greyhounds would have been through the treatment process after sustaining a fracture," Ms Kemp said.

"Depending on the severity of the fracture, treatment can involve major surgery, rehabilitation can be extremely restrictive, painful and lengthy.

"The fracture site can be left permanently deformed, and there may be long term implications.

"It is unknown if the dogs undergoing treatment and rehabilitation are in a foster home or in kennels. There is a concern if dogs are confined to kennels while recovering from these injuries."

Busselton Greyhound Awareness are calling on the industry and state government to support research into track design and the number of dogs which are allowed in a race.

Ms Kemp said there was research which showed a correlation between racetrack design and a high number of dogs in a race increased the risk of injury.

"There are options that can significantly reduce these injuries," she said.

"If there is no intention of ending greyhound racing in our state, we'd like to see the racing industry and our state government take the research into consideration so less dogs must needlessly suffer."

In WA greyhound racing, 99.5 per cent of starters race safely without sustaining major injuries, a Racing and Wagering Western Australia spokesperson said.

"The causes of major injuries involve numerous factors with many scientific studies proposing various elements that contribute to their occurrence, exclusive of other factors such as contact from other runners and field sizes," the spokesperson said.

"The average field size for greyhound racing in WA is 7.38, with a maximum of eight.

"All race tracks are designed with safety of the greyhound athlete in mind and include such things as camber, careful surface preparation and monitoring track conditions using scientific instrumentation."

The spokesperson said they were committed to ensuring that the best levels of care are given to greyhounds throughout all stages of their lives.

"High performance athletes, whether human or animal, may experience injuries in the course of exercise and competition. In the event of an injury, most cases are very minor and are able to be treated by an on track veterinarian.

"Once the appropriate veterinary care has been provided and a treatment plan has been established by the veterinarian, the greyhound begins their rehabilitation in kennels or with a carefully chosen Greyhound as Pets foster carer.

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This story Greyhound injuries increase on Western Australian racetracks first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.