The injuries to greyhounds are not fatal if treated well, yet most dogs are put down, the CPG says. (AAP: David Moir)
Greyhound racing has seen 64 greyhound deaths and resulted in more than 1,200 injuries in 2019 in Queensland alone, according to figures compiled by the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG).
- CPG vice-president Dennis Anderson said the business model relies on deaths and injuries
- The most common injuries to the dogs occurred to their hocks while navigating track bends
- The ABC has contacted Queensland Racing and the State Government for comment
Of those 64 deaths, 23 occurred at the Albion Park track in Brisbane, 19 in Ipswich, 11 in Townsville, seven in Bundaberg, three in Rockhampton and one at Capalaba.
CPG national president Dennis Anderson said the injuries in Queensland were “significant”.
“Some of the 64 dogs killed in their prime during 2019 were not even two years old when they suffered death in the pursuit of profit and winnings for their owners,” Mr Anderson said.
“The business model of the greyhound industry requires dogs to die and be seriously injured.
“This goes on year after year despite the promises from both government and the industry that they’re going to clean up their act and stop it.”
Of the list compiled from hundreds of stewards’ reports, the most common reason for euthanasia was injury to the “off hock” — which refers to an injury to the animal’s ankle.
“What happens, when the dogs collide because, they collide on the bends at 60 kilometres per hour, then when they collide some of the dogs are then breaking their ankles,” Mr Anderson said.
At one meeting at Ipswich on June 8, 2019, two dogs were euthanased as a result of off-hock injuries.
The most common reason for euthanasia was injury to the ‘off hock’ — the ankle. (Supplied: Greyhound Racing Victoria )
Dogs still put down despite ‘repairable injury’
In most cases, Mr Anderson said the injuries were not fatal if treated well, yet most dogs were put down.
“[An off hock] is a repairable injury, vets tell us it costs about $4,000 to repair the ankle but industry participants will not do that because there’s no guarantee if they spend the money that the dog will be competitive again,” he said.
While the CPG said the information could be found in the stewards’ reports it was not easy to decipher.
“Neither government nor industry release this info in Queensland — this is dishonest when millions of taxpayer dollars are involved, let alone the $39 million recently announced for the new Ipswich track,” Mr Anderson said.
He pointed to New South Wales Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission, which published injury and end-of-life reports, in addition to its annual reports.
Mr Anderson said he was “not aware” of any reason why the Queensland Government and Racing Queensland had not made the information readily available.
Across other states and territories, the number of injuries and deaths on tracks are similar to Queensland’s statistics. (ABC Rural: David Claughton)
More safety measures needed
In the long term, the CPG is calling for an end to the greyhound racing industry, but in the short term wants to see a raft of measures introduced to reduce breeding numbers, deaths and injuries.
Among the measures, the CPG want to create safer tracks by redesigning the layout and equipment used to move the dogs away from the bends and rails where injuries most often occur.
“Straight tracks, reduce the race field from eight to six, and … extended lure so that the lure is in the centre of the track and not on the rail,” Mr Anderson said.
“There is only one straight track in Queensland and that is at Capalaba [which saw one death in 2019].”
The CPG said across the other states and territories, the number of injuries and deaths on racetracks were similar to Queensland’s statistics.
A Racing Queensland spokesperson said strategies to reduce injury and euthanasia rates were being “explored” and “adopted”.
“This includes working with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) to currently review the on-course veterinary protocols and the Racing Meeting Injury Scheme,” the spokesperson said.
“Initiatives already adopted by Racing Queensland includes increased vigilance of injury analysis (cause and effect); the development of track curator conferencing; and standardisation across track maintenance, preparation methodology and equipment.
“At present, less than 3 per cent of starters across all Queensland greyhound tracks incur injury, with the vast majority of those able to return to racing inside a fortnight.
The spokesperson also directed the ABC to the stewards’ reports that were accessible on the QRIC website.
Likewise, Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said the information was made available at the end of every race meeting.
“All injuries and deaths of greyhounds are published in QRIC stewards’ reports that are public documents available on the Racing Queensland website at the conclusion of each greyhound race meeting,” he said in a statement.
Queensland Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe also said the Government was taking steps to make the industry safer.
“The Palaszczuk Government takes the welfare of all animals very seriously, which is why we’re implementing the recommendations from the Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry Commission of Inquiry to make the code safer,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“The inquiry was headed by Alan MacSporran QC, and two significant recommendations were to establish the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and to ensure that data around racing animal injuries is publicly released.
“Both of these have been achieved.”
Mr Hinchliffe also said the proportion of racing greyhounds euthanased trackside sat “at about 1 per cent”.