While you were at home this past Wednesday evening, maybe cooking a nice meal or relaxing watching the TV, greyhounds were racing at various tracks around Australia. These dogs were literally running for their lives. Some didn’t make it.
At the Dapto greyhound track, three greyhounds lost their lives.
The first greyhound that died was Shez’s Way. She was a 19-month-old black greyhound.
This was her very first race. Something happened at the first turn and Shez’s Way stopped running. The track vet inspected her and found she had a serious fractured leg. Serious enough that she wouldn’t race again. When you are a greyhound and you can’t race, you are generally considered worthless. Shez’s Way was put to sleep.
Shez’s Way is possibly luckier than four of her litter mates that were not even named. If you are not a good chaser, you are not named and not raced.
The chances of becoming a pet are remote. In fact it is less than 5 per cent.*
With more than 6000- 12,000 greyhounds not being named each year, that is a lot of greyhounds being discarded.
The industry calls this ‘wastage’. Discarded generally means taken to your greyhound vet clinic, blood drained (for blood products) and then killed. Some dogs end up being dissected at universities.
The second greyhound to die on Wednesday night at Dapto was Sniffles. Sniffles was also a black, female girl. Her 22nd race was her last. On the first turn she fell. Sniffles was found to have a broken back and was also put to sleep.
The third dog to die on Wednesday was Kool Brock. Kool Brock was a four-year-old red brindle, boy. Kool Brock crashed on the first turn and fell. Kool Brock died on the track. He had a broken neck.
Three greyhounds in one night is a lot, but it is not unheard of. In WA last year, five greyhounds broke their legs in one night.
Injuries and death are pretty much part and parcel of greyhound racing industry. In 2012 more than 270 greyhounds left a TAB greyhound track in a body bag and another 336 greyhounds had broken bones. Most of these will have been killed.**
In fact it is estimated that nearly 20,000 greyhounds a year are killed in the name of this so-called sport.
Greyhound racing is no doubt part of Australian history and culture. But times have changed; the stakes are higher and the numbers being breed and killed mean that this colourful aspect of Australian life now equates to a dog killing industry.
Community values towards animals are changing and many people no longer see animals simply as commodities to breed and kill at whim or for a profit. More and more people are seeing them as sentient beings and not wanting to be part of this carnage.
In the US, seven states have stopped racing and 38 have banned it entirely. It is time for our society to catch up and realise that breeding dogs so that we can race, have a bet and then kill them, is not a fair go and simply un-Australian.
On Thursday night, April 11, another greyhound at Dapto, Chasing Diana fractured her leg.
* A Report on Integrity Assurance in the Victorian Racing Industry by Judge G.D. Lewis, 2008
** Figures collected from TAB Steward reports by Greyhound Freedom. These figures do not include the 20 non-TAB tracks around Australia.
Inez Hamilton-Smith is a co-founder of the greyhound advocacy group Greyhound Freedom. Greyhound Freedom collects information on the racing industry, promote greyhounds as pets and encourage compassion to all animals.