GREYHOUND Racing NSW has announced it will become mandatory to provide greyhounds with water in their kennels at race meetings across the state from February 20, 2017.
The authority body has stated that it will supply the water, however, owners and handlers will be responsible for supplying a water bowl for every greyhound that is either racing or trialling at a race meeting.
The new requirement has been met with mixed reactions from trainers since it was introduced as a trial at The Gardens in December and as a voluntary transition period, commenced in January.
Hunter Valley trainer Natasha Benhard was one of those who was apprehensive about providing water in the kennels prior to racing, but says she hasn’t observed any negative side effects.
“We were concerned prior to using them that the dogs were going to get hooked up in the buckets and whether or not they would be able to get the water with their American muzzles on,” Benhard said.
“On top of that we didn’t really want the dogs drinking too much water prior to them racing – we were concerned that they may get a little bit bloated before the race which may make them sick.
“We started using the water buckets and we have found that the dogs aren’t drinking much water – probably because they all have a drink prior to kennelling when we arrive at the track.”
Despite this, Benhard was still of the opinion that the provision of water in race kennels should be optional as she believes greyhounds are sufficiently hydrated prior to competing.
“We are still of the opinion that it should be up to the trainers if they want to use them – especially for dogs in the early races – it shouldn’t be a thing that you have to do,” she said.
“I don’t think any of the dogs are dehydrated prior to the race – and if they are concerned about it surely it would be something the vets should pick up on when they are going over the table during kennelling.
“We probably wouldn’t have used it if we didn’t have to because, like most trainers, we make sure the dogs are well hydrated before kennelling and they always get a good drink after the race.”
Benhard said at the end of the day it wasn’t a major concern for her moving forward, stating it is just another new procedure which needs to be accepted as a part of the sport.
“It’s something which has come in since the industry has had to make all these changes and I think it is just something to keep other people happy,” she said.
“We haven’t had a negative experience – but as I said its probably not something we would have done if we didn’t have to do it.
“It’s one of those things that if we want to continue racing we are just going to have to do it.”
Trainers and handlers who do not provide water bowls for their greyhounds will be reprimanded, with both a second and third offence resulting in a $100 fine. A fourth offence will require trainers and handlers to front a stewards’ inquiry.