GRNSW Reform Bolstered By Welfare InitiativesGreyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) has unveiled plans for a major expansion of the Greyhounds As Pets rehoming facility on the NSW Central Coast as part of the organisation’s efforts to greatly increase re-homing opportunities for retired greyhounds.
The expansion project will require more than $1 million in funding and create 76 additional kennels, a veterinary clinic and a specialised adoption centre to allow people to meet and become familiar with a greyhound before they adopt one into their home.
In addition to the expansion of the GAP facility, GRNSW has also progressed another important welfare initiative by commissioning the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to undertake a vital piece of research on identifying optimal greyhound race track design for canine safety and welfare.
The research project, which is expected to take up to 12 months to complete, will use an evidence-based approach and aims to prevent injuries during greyhound training and racing by establishing an optimal model for track design and surface.
The two welfare initiatives are in addition to the immense amount of work GRNSW has already delivered to improve greyhound welfare.
Other initiatives already underway include the introduction of breeding restrictions in July 2015 to address the serious issue of overbreeding.
The number of greyhounds born has reduced by 50% since the restrictions were introduced.
GRNSW has also recently launched a review of its existing codes of practices, which specify the minimum standards of accommodation, management and care that are appropriate to the physical and behavioural needs of greyhounds. Assisted by external experts in animal welfare, veterinarians and industry participants, the review will assist in the creation of a new single code that safeguards welfare throughout the entire lifecycle of racing greyhounds.
GRNSW, drawing on internal and external expertise, is also currently investigating what changes could be made to improve veterinary services by undertaking a full review of current services, including veterinary on-track support.
The Greyhound Re-homing Grant Scheme was recently launched by GRNSW to support independent re-homing organisations find new homes for retired greyhounds. Under the scheme, eligible organisations have the opportunity to apply for up to $10,000 towards the cost of an item or service that directly benefits their re-homing activities.
GRNSW has also committed additional staff resources to establish a national licensing scheme from July 2016 that will ensure that all greyhounds are under the care of a licensed person at all stages of their lives. In addition, GRNSW now funds and provides numerous education seminars to assist industry participants with modern day best-practice training practices.
GRNSW Chief Executive Paul Newson said the welfare initiatives announced today recognise that a sustainable future for greyhound racing can only be achieved through prioritising animal welfare and embracing responsible development of the industry.
“For the past 12 months, GRNSW has taken decisive measures to improve the welfare of greyhounds throughout their lifecycle,” Mr Newson said.
“The significant investment into the expansion of the Greyhounds As Pets facility at Wyee will mean that the program will be able to house 120 greyhounds at any one time – a 200% increase compared to two years ago – ensuring that more greyhounds will be re-homed once their racing careers are over.”
Mr Newson said the research project being undertaken by UTS continued GRNSW’s leadership through independent research and evidence based policy development and signalled a major turning point in reducing on-track injuries and related euthanasia.
“The racing industry needs to do more to reduce the number of injuries and euthanasia that occur as a result of racing activity. GRNSW has introduced contemporary injury monitoring and reporting and is committed to substantially decreasing the risk of injuries associated with greyhound racing. This vital piece of work being undertaken by UTS will go a long way in helping ensure that GRNSW can implement best practice in race track design, safety and surface and is best positioned to identify emerging practices to minimise and prevent greyhound injuries and euthanasia,” Mr Newson said.
Outside of welfare, GRNSW has undertaken a large number of initiatives to improve the organisation’s supervision of the greyhound racing industry. Central to this is the recent release of GRNSW’s first Industry Supervision Strategy, which outlines the organisation’s regulatory purpose, strategic priorities and objectives.
GRNSW established its Intelligence and Investigations teams to ensure it can identify and assess known and emerging risks and effectively target suspected non-compliance and wrongdoing. GRNSW’s Investigations team consists of highly experienced former State and Federal Police detectives and is dedicated to investigating more serious non-compliance and alleged misconduct to safeguard animal welfare and secure industry integrity.