THE Victorian Code of Practice document, which runs to 88 pages in PDF format, is almost bizarre in the language that the compilers have used to outline the planned regulations and rules.
Arguably, the language is at times condescending, and much of it unnecessary to anyone who has been involved with the care and training of greyhounds. For anyone interested in becoming involved in the sport, much of the care and attention elements included in the proposed new Code of Practice would be self-evident to all but the simplest of individuals.
As an example, in the section outlining the requirements for a greyhound transport vehicle is the line ‘a greyhound MUST NOT be transported in the boot of a sedan’ (page 24). I’m surprised they didn’t also add something like, ‘a greyhound should not be transported in the front basket of a bicycle’ as well.
For this writer, that sentence tells me a lot about the mindset of those who came up with the entire document. The compilers believe they are dealing with a sub-set of humanity incapable of recognising that transporting a racing greyhound in the boot of a sedan might impinge on its ability to perform at its best in a race.
As plenty of current participants have noted in greyhound online forums and elsewhere, some of the proposed regulations are simply not sensible in the real world.
Take feeding, as another example. ‘All greyhounds must be fed at least once daily.’ (page 30) No guano Sherlock. Honestly, who writes this stuff? Surely starving a greyhound in the days before a race won’t make it keener to chase? Well, it might, but the poor thing wouldn’t be capable of going more than 100 metres without collapsing and would only be able to start if, by some miracle, the trainer managed to make sure its racing weight was within the current long-established guidelines.
Once again, the language in the food section is almost an insult to common intelligence.
The Kafkaesque nature of some of the proposed rules and regulations flies in the face of the simple fact the current situation is people already need to fulfil certain requirements to obtain a licence to become directly involved in the training of racing greyhounds.
One of the great positives of this industry has been the way it has allowed almost anyone to become directly involved as a trainer or breeder. The hobby trainer or breeder has been the backbone of the sport for its 90 years of existence, and, arguably, this needs to remain the case if the sport is to continue to operate.
Yes, this ability for almost anyone to set up as a trainer is not a perfect model. It makes it difficult for authorities to be pro-active when it comes to policing the welfare of the animals, because the manpower available for the necessary on-the-ground policing is stretched very thinly. It means that greyhounds can be subject to mistreatment, or worse.
That said, as anyone with half a brain should be able to understand, a mistreated greyhound is never going to be able to perform at its best in any race it contests, so there is nothing to gain and everything to lose by mistreating a racing greyhound.
What is definitely needed from within the greyhound community is some serious conversation about the glaringly non-workable and ridiculous elements of the Code of Practice.