New penalty guidelines to be introduced in Victoria for welfare

Victorian greyhounds

GREYHOUND Racing Victoria (GRV) is calling for participants to provide feedback on its draft ‘Penalty Guidelines – Greyhound Welfare 2018’ Policy.

The draft guidelines were released on Friday for a six-week consultation period which will end on February 2, 2018.

The guidelines will update the current document released in 2014 and will detail the parameters for GRV and the Victorian Racing Appeals Board (RADB) in relation to a range of penalties for greyhound welfare offences within the Victorian industry.

GRV Public Affairs co-ordinator Suzanne McKenzie explained the review of the welfare penalty guidelines forms part of GRV’s wider penalty review which began in response to the Office of Racing Integrity Commissioner and Chief Veterinary Officer reports in 2015.

“GRV is committed to providing a racing industry environment in which the safety and welfare of greyhounds comes first and to ensuring that participants follow contemporary rules, laws and ethical behaviors,” McKenzie said.

“Guidelines such as this assist GRV in making decisions about taking enforcement action under the rules.

“GRV publishes its guidelines as part of its commitment to transparency in its compliance activities, to deter inappropriate behaviour and activities and to ensure participants and the public are aware of GRV’s expectations and compliance approach.

“These guidelines are not binding on the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board or VCAT, but will inform GRV’s approach when it makes submissions to these bodies.”

For those wishing to learn more about the proposed penalty guidelines, they have been summarised as follows:

Category one

Failure to provide minimum conditions for the care of a greyhound: Covers the greyhound’s environment, with the minimum standards required detailed in the Victorian Code of Practice for the Operation of Greyhound Establishments.

Offences could include unsanitary housing conditions, not providing access to water, or unhygienic or insufficient shelter from environmental conditions.

Proposed minimum penalty: $1,500 fine per greyhound.
Proposed maximum penalty: two-year disqualification plus a $1,500 fine per greyhound.

Category two

Failure to provide minimum standards for the care of a greyhound with potential for negative impact on greyhound welfare: related to offences where a minimum standard has not been provided which may result in the greyhound becoming ill or suffering.

Breaches could include water not being available or being unhygienic leading to dehydration, not being able to produce evidence of current vaccinations against distemper, hepatitis, canine cough and parvovirus, not being able to provide evidence of a proven and effective worming program, or inappropriate exercise.

Proposed minimum penalty: six-month disqualification and a $3,000 fine per greyhound.
Proposed maximum penalty: five-year disqualification plus a $3,000 fine per greyhound.

Category three

Failure to provide minimum standards for the care of a greyhound resulting in greyhound ill health, pain or suffering: for deliberate or negligent failure to provide the appropriate standards of care, which causes pain and suffering that requires medical treatment.

This could include keeping a greyhound with an injury without seeking timely and appropriate veterinary care and treatment, knowingly leaving a greyhound in pain or suffering, untreated ulcers, abscesses or painful pressure sores or severe chronic dental disease without appropriate veterinary attention.

Proposed minimum penalty: Two-year disqualification and $3,000 fine per greyhound
Proposed maximum penalty: 10-year disqualification plus $3,000 fine per greyhound.

Neds special for ARG

Category four

Causing unnecessary pain or suffering to a greyhound: For omitting to do anything which results in unnecessary and unjustifiable pain and suffering to a greyhound.

For example failing to provide sufficient food leading to a body condition score between 1 and 1.5, failure to provide vaccinations leading to a life threatening disease, failure to provide sufficient or clean water leading to dehydration, leaving a greyhound in a vehicle or kennel leading to death or illness from heat stroke or performing a procedure which would ordinarily be performed by a vet.

Proposed minimum penalty: Five-year disqualification and a $7,000 fine per greyhound
Proposed maximum penalty: Life disqualification and a $7,000 fine per greyhound

Category five

Causing harm to a greyhound: by intentionally, knowingly or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills a greyhound without just cause.

This could include torturing, tormenting or poisoning a greyhound, abandoning it, failing to provide sufficient food or water leading to death or euthanasia or killing an animal in a manner other than euthanasia allowed under the rules.

Proposed minimum penalty: Seven-year disqualification and a $7,000 fine per greyhound.
Proposed maximum penalty: Life disqualification plus a $7,000 fine per greyhound.

Other offences

Failure to provide notification of euthanasia or death:

Proposed minimum penalty: $250 late lodgment fee per month for each notification not lodged.
Penalty for failure to provide information after initial direction: minimum $2,500 fine.
Maximum penalty: two-year disqualification plus $2,500 fine.

Failure to provide a veterinary certificate of euthanasia where the greyhound has been euthanised:

Minimum penalty: two-year disqualification and a $2,000 fine.
Maximum penalty: five-year disqualification plus $2,000 fine.

Requirement for returning from disqualification: Where a participant has been disqualified for a welfare related breach, re-registration will be at the discretion of GRV.

ARG thoughts

One important query is that some of the guidelines rely on the Victorian Code of Practice for the Operation of Greyhound Establishments, however this code is soon to be scrapped in favour of the new Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds

McKenzie said the new code had no influence on GRV calling for participant feedback on the proposed penalty guidelines.

“The draft Guidelines relate to breaches of GRV rules rather than breaches of any new Code issued by the Victorian Government,” McKenzie said.

“When a government introduces new requirements, such as a new Code, GRV would review its policy and guidelines at that time to ensure that any necessary amendments are considered.”

A draft of the new Code of Practice caused furore when it was released for feedback earlier this year and Australian Racing Greyhound understands more than 1,300 submissions were sent in.

Submissions closed on August 14, 2017, and are still being considered by the Victorian Government’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transports and Resources (DEDJTR) which is expected to finalise the new Code of Practice early in the new year.

Australian Racing Greyhound also approached DEDJTR for an update on the Code of Practice on Friday however they did not respond to our request for comment.

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