GREYHOUND Racing Victoria (GRV) has announced a suite of proposed rule changes with the aim of improving animal welfare outcomes.
The proposed rules are aimed at tightening regulation surrounding ownership and rehoming responsibilities and will put further responsibilities on trainers in the state. These would change euthanasia laws, ensure the socialisation of greyhounds, set a minimum age for breeding and racing, require trainers to report greyhound health issues and require all owners to report the death, transfer and rehoming of their greyhounds.
A breakdown of the proposed rule changes is as follows:
In June 2016 a new Local Rule (LR42.6) was introduced to ensure Victorian owners make every effort to ensure their greyhounds are re-homed in order to eradicate unnecessary euthanasia.
It is now proposed this rule be amended to clearly specify the obligations an owner has to avoid euthanising a healthy greyhound, provide the minimum requirements for re-homing attempts and to ensure a breach of this rule is considered a serious offence.
The new rule stipulates, prior to euthanasia, an owner must make a genuine attempt of all the following:
– Seek to re-home the greyhound with a minimum of two appropriate third parties.
– Attempt to get the greyhound admitted into the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP).
– Pursue to have the greyhound re-homed through at least one other animal adoption, rescue or re-homing agency.
Additionally, in the four weeks prior to attempting any of the above, the greyhound must not engage in any racing activities such as trialling, breaking, education, training or racing.
Owners must also make genuine and daily efforts to socialise their greyhounds in non-race settings and environments, such as walking them for 20 minutes each day.
An owner will not be found guilty of breaching the new LR42.6 if the greyhound is determined to be suffering from a significant incurable condition, displaying negative behavioural characteristics which impact its suitability as a pet or if it is required to be euthanised in order to comply with the law.
Owners must ensure they keep detailed records of their compliance with LR42.6.
Notice of intention
In June 2016, a rule was introduced (LR42.7) which requires owners to provide at least seven days written warning of their intention to euthanise more than five greyhounds within any four-week period.
GRV has now proposed the rule be amended so an owner must provide the controlling body with 14 days’ written notice of the intention to euthanise any fit or healthy greyhound.
This rule would not apply when, in the opinion of a veterinarian, the greyhound is suffering from an incurable condition which causes significant pain or discomfort, a marked reduction in the dog’s quality of life or where the condition of the industry is significant.
A breach of this rule would be considered a serious offence.
Socialisation, enrichment and education
GRV is proposing an entirely new rule which concerns regular socialisation, enrichment and education of greyhounds aimed at increasing the dog’s chances to succeed both on the track and to ensure appropriate preparation for re-homing.
The proposed new rules would require:
– All registered persons to ensure greyhounds in their care are provided with daily handling, appropriate exercise and appropriate forms of enrichment. Included in this would be exposure to a variety of different surfaces (such as hard floors, carpets etc), chew toys such as rope toys, squeaky toys and rubber toys, regular access to different environments, changes in toys, walking in new environments, introduction to new people, sights and smells, on a weekly basis. Registered persons must be able to provide evidence they have complied with this rule upon request.
– An owner or registered person must ensure all greyhounds are taught to wear a collar, walk on a lead and walk by their collar prior to 16 weeks.
– Prior to a greyhound starting its race education, an owner must ensure their greyhound has, four at least once weekly for four weeks, been exposed to travelling in a car or trailer and spent between 30-60 minutes isolated from other greyhounds and humans. Greyhounds must also receive a veterinary certificate within a month of starting training to state it is fit to start its race education.
– Prior to a greyhound starting its training, an owner or registered person must ensure that greyhound is prepared to transition from education and pre-training to training and race related activities. Owners must also obtain a vet certificate to state that the greyhound is fit to begin training and racing activities.
Minimum age for breeding
Currently, there is no minimum age for breeding. GRV is now proposing a greyhound must be at least 24 months of age (male or female) prior to being registered as a stud dog or brood bitch.
Minimum age for nomination
National Rule 21 currently stipulates a greyhound cannot be nominated for an event before the age of 16 months. GRV stated upon consultation with the industry, it has been identified that 16 months is too young for a greyhound to be subjected to a vigorous training regime.
The controlling body is therefore proposing the introduction of LR26.2 which would mean a greyhound cannot be nominated for an event until it turns 20 months of age.
Health of a racing greyhound
Following GRV’s track design, safety and lure workshops, a number of initiatives were identified relating to greyhound welfare and the minimisation of injuries.
The workshops highlighted the issues surrounding the health of racing greyhounds throughout their careers, with the suggestion there should be a greater obligation on trainers to report injury and illness.
Subsequently, GRV are proposing the addition of LR26.4 which would require a trainer to notify stewards within 48 hours when they become aware a greyhound in their care is suffering from illness or injury which would impact their fitness to race.
Trainers would also be required to notify stewards of any injuries sustained at an event which are not detected by the veterinarian on-track.
Upon receiving notice of injury or illness, stewards may require a vet certificate be produced to state the greyhound is fit to race prior to re-nomination.
Transfer of greyhounds
In order to keep better track of greyhounds, GRV are proposing new rules as follows:
– Notification of retirement or death: An owner or responsible person for a greyhound must not provide false information when notifying GRV of a greyhound’s retirement or death under GAR106(3) or LR42.3. The controlling body may require further information in relation to one of these notifications, with a person failing to comply able to be suspended from racing until they provide the relevant information.
– Transfer of greyhound: An owner or responsible person for a greyhound who provides false or misleading information in relation to GAR117, GAR118 or LR42.4 is guilty of a serious offence. A Controlling Body may require a registered person to provide information or further details as it thinks fit in relation to a notification under GAR117, GAR118 or LR42.4. A person who fails to comply may be suspended from participating in greyhound racing until the person provides the relevant information.
A new rule is also being suggested to clarify and facilitate GRV’s focus on raising participant awareness of rule changes.
It is proposed LR1.4 be deleted and replaced with:
– The requirement that the controlling body must publish a notice of making an amendment of the rules in the Government Gazette and
– Within seven working days after making the rule or amendment publish the rules/amendments online and display or cause to be displayed a notice at each club.
These rules or amendments would come into force on the day the notice is published in the Government Gazette or as specified in the notice.
Participants can have their say on these proposed new rule changes by submitting feedback to GRV by C.O.B on Wednesday November 2, 2016.
You can submit your form:
– By email: [email protected]
– By fax: (03) 8329 1000
– By post: Greyhound Racing Victoria, 46-50 Chetwynd St, West Melbourne Vic 3003
Please ensure that all emails, faxes and envelopes are clearly titled “Local Rules Submission”.