GRV Respond To Sun Herald “Dog Killer” Claims

Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) categorically denies providing any greyhounds to The University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science for use in the teaching of surgical procedures as insinuated in the article “Dogs Operated on then Killed” in the Sunday Herald Sun – Sunday April 13th, 2008.

For some five years now, greyhounds have been used at The University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic and Hospital strictly as blood donors. This is the only registered blood clinic of its type in Australia and the blood products generated from these special dogs are used to save the lives of around 1,000 dogs each year. The lives saved include all breeds of dogs – not just greyhounds.

The greyhounds that act as blood donors are not provided by Greyhound Racing Victoria, however a handful each year do come from our Greyhound Adoption Program [GAP] to spend time being cared for by the students (similar to them being fostered by families prior to adoption).

The Blood donor greyhounds are kept in very good conditions before returning to GAP to be adopted out as pets. The human contact and care provided by The University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic and Hospital and their students allows for the greyhounds to get more familiar with day-to-day human interaction and living with other dogs; which helps them make the transition from racing and makes them a better pet in the long run.

The blood donor greyhounds that come from GAP have already undertaken GAP’s regular temperament test and if they are deemed more likely to pass following a longer period of foster care and greater human contact, then The University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic and Hospital allows them to gain the opportunity for a second chance.

The University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science which discusses their practices regarding the use of animals in teaching, however this does not involve greyhounds other than for use through the blood donations. Their reponse to the article is available below.

Statement from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, the University of Melbourne, regarding use of live animals in teaching.
To: Eleni Hale, Herald Sun – Sunday
From: Professor Ken Hinchcliff
Date: 11 April 2008

Our primary concern is the health and well being of animals. All animals are treated with the utmost care and compassion at all times.

We have an obligation to the public, and to animals, to produce graduates that are competent veterinarians. As veterinarians are not required to undertake an internship or residency after graduation, training in surgery during the undergraduate course is essential for competency in this core skill

We use both dead and live animals in the instruction of veterinary students, as does every other reputable school of veterinary science in the world, including all established veterinary schools in Australia.

Use of live animals is a small but vital part of our surgery teaching program before clinical training.

Dogs used in surgical teaching are anesthetised before any surgical procedures are performed and are euthanased before awakening from anaesthesia.

Euthanasia of dogs is performed by trained clinical staff.

We strive at all times to minimise the use of live animals in teaching, and seek viable alternatives. As a result we are developing and utilising computer software (e.g. virtual surgery), models and inanimate materials, and ethically-sourced cadavers.

All procedures, sourcing, and housing of animals ultimately used for teaching is with the approval of the Animal Ethics Committee of the University of Melbourne. This committee includes veterinarians from outside the University, non-veterinarians, and an individual from an animal welfare organisation.

Dogs used in teaching are donated to the University of Melbourne by their owner because of a desire to promote veterinary teaching and clinical investigation of injuries
and diseases of animals. The Faculty of Veterinary Science pays for the safe transportation of the dogs to the University.

We do not use pound dogs.

The Veterinary Clinic and Hospital runs the only registered blood bank for dogs in Australia and supplies blood and plasma to veterinarians for treatment of sick dogs. (See http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/articleid_4737.html)

All dogs in the blood bank are offered for adoption at the end of their time in that program.

From the appearance of the dogs and the environment in which the photographs were taken, the photographs that you emailed through to us appear to have been taken at the University of Melbourne’s dog colony. However they are at least two years old. The dogs lying on tables have been euthanased prior to use in student teaching.