There are a number of welfare initiatives and programs in place to protect the wellbeing of canine athletes.

These standards are upheld by overarching rules and regulations and are enforced by Stewards, who are the ‘policeman’ of the industry.

Strict Governance & Oversight

The industry is subject to stringent welfare and integrity controls, which are regulated by the State appointed regulator, Racing and Wagering Western Australia. We have Rules of Racing in place, which are effectively laws that regulate the action of all people within the industry and include rules on the care and treatment of racing animals. Stewards are the ‘police’ of the industry and have the power to strictly enforce the rules, both on and off the track.

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Strict Breeding Controls

WA has a small breeding population in comparison to other states and has strict controls in place to ensure responsible breeding, which state that female greyhounds:

  • Must be registered to breed.
  • Are not allowed to be bred after the age of eight unless she meets certain criteria, including a veterinary health and fitness assessment as well as proven success from previous litters.
  • Only allowed to have a maximum of five litters.
  • No more than two litters in any 18-month period.
  • Must be up to date with vaccinations.

In 2019/20, in total 1,545 individual greyhounds raced in WA – in that same year only 582 greyhound pups were bred.

Veterinary Care

Present at all greyhound race meetings is a veterinarian and a veterinarian nurse. All greyhounds are checked prior to every race by the veterinarian to ensure they are fit and healthy. If there are any concerns, the greyhound will not be able to race. Greyhounds that exhibit any sign of injury during a race also undergo veterinary examination immediately. As performance athletes, greyhounds receive levels of care above that of domestic pets.

Injury Recovery Schemes

In WA greyhound racing, 99.8% of starters race safely without sustaining major injuries. However, it is important that in the event an injury does occur, the greyhound receives the necessary care. To ensure this is the case, there are two injury recovery schemes that exist. This includes financial support provided to the owner/trainer to assist with veterinarian costs, or alternatively ownership of the greyhound is signed over to Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s (the industry governing body) Greyhounds as Pets program, where all veterinarian costs are covered. Once the greyhound is recovered it is rehomed through Greyhounds as Pets.

 

 

Welfare Policies

There are a number of policies to protect the welfare of racing greyhounds, including:

  • Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds, which is based on scientific knowledge and recommended industry practice, and sets the minimum standards to safeguard welfare. The Code was developed in conjunction with the RSPCA as well as experts in greyhound management, welfare and veterinary science.
  • Greyhound Racing Hot Weather Policy, which details the appropriate practices required on-course to ensure the proper management of environmental thermal load, to safeuard the health and welfare of both the greyhounds and participants.
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Traceability

All racing greyhounds are registered and tracked throughout all stages of their lives, from birth to retirement. All owners of racing greyhounds must also be licenced, and any transfer of ownership is lodged with RWWA. Simiarly, the location of all greyhounds must be disclosed. This ensures the responsible person and the location of a greyhound is known at all times.

Injury Monitoring & Track Research

Track injury data is continually monitored and analysed. The University of Technology Sydney is also conducting a review of WA’s three greyhound tracks. The report will provide advice on potential improvements to elevate existing welfare standards.

Inspections

Stewards who are the ‘policeman’ of the industry, regularly conduct inspections at properties where racing animals are kept. In 2019/20, 160 persons were licensed greyhound trainers and a total of 171 inspections were undertaken by Stewards. Stewards also attend to inspect and identify all litters at approximately six weeks of age.