Lismore home to second deadliest greyhound track in NSW
LISMORE greyhound racing track has tied for second place as the most deadliest track in NSW, according to figures released by The Greens.
Data anaylising the number of deaths at each track across the state found The Gardens outside Newcastle had the highest rate with eight greyhound deaths recorded during the 2019 season, followed by Gosford, Nowra and Lismore with six deaths each.
Wagga Wagga was the most likely for a dog to die, with one in five race meets resulting in a dead greyhound.
Australian Greens Senator and Animal Welfare spokeswoman, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, said the greyhound industry in NSW was still failing to uphold the best safety practices for dogs.
"2019 has been another brutal year in greyhound racing, with dogs dying across the state," Dr Faruqi said.
"Across NSW at least one dog has been killed and 48 injured on track each week, but the Newcastle track is the deadliest with eight dogs dying for the sake of a bet this year.
"Greyhound racing can never be made safe for animals.
"We know that only half of dogs make it out of racing alive."
But a Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission spokeswoman said the Commission, which was established in 2018 to monitor the welfare and regulatory functions within the industry, releases a quartely report on animal welfare in the industry and found Lismore track performed well over the last recorded quarter.
"The Lismore track has seen 1506 greyhound starts since July 1, 2019," the spokeswoman said.
"During this time there have been no catastrophic injuries and 0.46 per cent of starters suffered a serious injury.
"Lismore has seen a total of 81 injuries in the same period, 74 per cent of which were categorised as minor or medium and saw greyhounds return to racing in 21 days or less.
"Lismore is not considered a dangerous track and undergoes regular maintenance and renovation by club staff under Greyhound Racing NSW's track maintenance management."
During the last quarter (July 1 - September 30, 2019), the Commission supervised 286 greyhound race meetings consisting of 2835 races and 20,289 greyhound starts.
"A total of 3781 individual greyhounds started in races over this period, with an average of 5.4 starts per greyhound," the Commission spokeswoman said.
"The number of greyhounds found to have sustained an injury was 754, amounting to 3.72 per cent of all greyhound starts or a total injury rate per 1000 starts of 37.2.
"The vast majority of injuries, some 632 or 83.9 per cent, were classified as minor or medium, requiring incapacitation periods of less than 21 days.
"For the same period, 34 greyhounds (4.5 per cent of all injuries) suffered more serious injuries.
"The number of greyhounds that suffered a catastrophic injury resulting in euthanasia or death was 12, representing a rate of 0.6 per 1,000 starts. This is the lowest catastrophic injury rate since reporting began in 2016."
But, as tracks around the state continue to record injuries and deaths, Dr Faruqi has called for the reintroduction of the ban on greyhound racing, which was imposed by the Baird Government in 2016 before the decision was backflipped.
"The original reasons for the ban are still very much present. We must reinstate the ban on this so called sport once and for all," she said.
Across all tracks in New South Wales, stewards reports reveal throughout 2019, 63 dogs died on track and 2530 dogs were injured in greyhound racing.
The most common reason dogs were reportedly put down was a fractured hock, which in most cases should not require euthanasia.
"$41 million in taxpayer money has been sunk into greyhound racing and gambling industry since the Liberal's backflip and dogs are still breaking their necks, spines and legs for the sake of a bet," Dr Faruqi said.
"I'm dismayed that taxpayers are propping up this blood sport. At the very least, we cannot allow public money to subsidise the gambling and racing industry.
"Hundreds more dogs are killed each year off track with the government's annual report showing that in 2018-2019, 538 dogs died off the track from injuries or because they are considered 'unsuitable for rehoming', which is the latest industry euphemism for disposable dogs.
"Forcing dogs to run and putting them at risk of death and injury for human entertainment and gambling is unacceptable.
"We also know that many of these dogs die after suffering entirely treatable injuries, such as a fractured hock.
"These dogs are quite literally running for their lives."
Meanwhile, a Greyhound Racing NSW spokesman they've made great efforts to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths within the industry.
"During the last quarter, figures show that the number of greyhounds that suffered a catastrophic injury resulting in euthanasia or death is the lowest catastrophic injury rate since reporting began in 2016," the spokesman said.
"We continue to work on track safety to ensure these figures continue to decrease."
The Commission has introduced a number of initiatives aimed at improving the welfare of racing greyhounds including the implementation of Rule 21A that prohibits greyhounds from competing in races on consecutive days.
The Lismore Greyhound Club has also been contacted for comment.