Greyhound racing in Australia
Greyhound racing in Australia is a sport and regular gambling activity. In 2015, there were more than 300,000 greyhounds in 40,000 races in Australia. A$4 billion a year is gambled on the results. Australia is one of eight countries with a significant greyhound racing industry.
Each Australian state and territory has a greyhound racing body that regulates the racing, training and animal welfare of greyhounds in that state or territory. Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) are the two largest authorities, governing over 40 racetracks. The Queensland Greyhound Racing Authority (QGRA), the Western Australian Greyhound Racing Association (WAGRA), Tasracing, Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA), Northern Territory Racing Authority, and the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club (CGRC), all contribute to running and monitoring of greyhound racing and animal welfare of greyhounds in Australia.
New South Wales
In 1927 Frederick 'Judge' Swindell established the Greyhound Coursing Association and the first meeting was held using a 'tin hare' at Epping Racecourse (Harold Park). From 1928 until 1931 betting was banned and in 1939 the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association was founded. In 1979, live hare coursing and other similar activities, including live baiting, was banned in NSW under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and in 1985 Wentworth Park became the racing headquarters of NSW. In 2009, the government formed a new legislation, known as the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 which made provisions in regards to the control and regulation of the industry and the Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) then became responsible for the regulatory affairs of the sport in addition to the commercial aspects.
In February 2015, the industry came under severe scrutiny following the airing of the ABC program Four Corners. A series of media reports called the Australian greyhound racing live baiting scandal detailed widespread use of live bait animals in the training of racing greyhounds. Despite self-regulatory efforts to address the issue of live baiting and other animal welfare issues, the revelation led to suspensions, inquiries, widespread condemnation of the practice, and, following an inquiry, to the banning of greyhound racing in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory with effect from 1 July 2017, following the passage of legislation. However the ban was repealed by Mike Baird on 11 October 2016. The appointment of the NSW Greyhound Reform Panel made 122 recommendations to the NSW government, of which 121 were adopted. Victoria commissioned the Perna Report and Queensland the MacSporran report. As part of the NSW government recommendations, it created GWIC (Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission), which is a taxpayer funded, non-industry regulator of the greyhound racing industry.
Tasracing which was established in November 2008 is responsible for the strategic direction and funding, while the Office of Racing Integrity Tasmania (ORI) is responsible for probity and integrity.
In 1981, the Western Australian Greyhound Racing Association (WAGRA) was established under the Western Australian Greyhound Racing Association Act. Cannington Greyhounds was the first track in Western Australia, opening in 1974 and was consequently transferred to the WAGRA.
There are 65 racing venues in Australia, including at least one in each state capital: Wentworth Park in Glebe, Sydney; TABtouch Park Cannington in Perth; Greyhound Park in Angle Park, Adelaide; Albion Park in Brisbane; and Sandown Greyhounds in Melbourne. Other major locations include the Illawarra town of Dapto, and Hobart and Launceston, in Tasmania.
- New South Wales
- Appin Way
- Broken Hill
- Newcastle - The Gardens
- Potts Park
- South Coast
- Wentworth Park
- Sandown Park
- The Meadows
- South Australia
- Angle Park
- Murray Bridge
- Mt Gambier
- Port Augusta
- Western Australia
- Albion Park
- Northern Territory
Notable Australian greyhounds
- Fernando Bale, considered by some to be the greatest racer to date
NSW hosts the world's richest race, the Million Dollar Chase in October at Wentworth Park. The Melbourne Cup for greyhounds is was previously the world's richest greyhound race, with a prize pool of A$600,000 in 2015. In Sydney, the 2013 Golden Easter Egg had a first prize of A$250,000.
Many adoption programs have been set up throughout Australia. There are industry programs and non-industry rescue groups (which are usually charities). Greyhounds are available for adoption in most parts of Australia. Families that have adopted greyhounds soon discover that these dogs are naturally gentle, loving and, surprisingly, don't need a lot of exercise. The industry's Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) operates in most states but does not re-home all ex-racing greyhounds. In 2018, 257 greyhounds (38%) failed the New South Wales rehoming test.
Adoption has been hampered in states and territories which cling to old-fashioned beliefs about the need to muzzle pet greyhounds. Both the RSPCA and the Australian Veterinary Association recommend against muzzles for companion animal greyhounds. Some states and councils still require greyhounds to wear a muzzle in public, while NSW, Victoria and the ACT have removed the requirement. RSPCA VIC CEO Dr Liz Walker said muzzle laws reduce greyhounds’ adoptability. The idea of muzzling greyhounds was introduced many years ago to stop them injuring themselves during a race. They race with their mouths open (which allows more air into lungs), so accidental bumping of one dog against another can cause cuts and grazes from accidental contact with teeth. The reason that muzzling was introduced was not because greyhounds are aggressive. In fact, they are one of the most gentle breeds and highly suitable for adoption if properly socialised.
New South Wales (GRNSW) Chief Executive Brent Hogan said in 2013 that an estimated 3,000 greyhounds are euthanized each year in that state alone. Also in 2013, ABC News revealed that some greyhounds were given to vets as blood donors and then euthanised.In 2015, the Australian Veterinary Association stated that all greyhounds bred for racing should be registered with an independent authority in order to track their life time movements.
In June 2016, Australian former High Court judge Michael McHugh conducted a Special Commission of Inquiry for the Australian state of New South Wales. Other key findings in the report included: a high death rate, where at least 48,891 uncompetitive greyhounds were euthanised over the past twelve years and the under reporting of greyhound deaths and injuries. The report also found up to twenty percent of trainers engaged in illegal live baiting practices, and that for the industry to remain viable, 2,000 to 4,000 greyhounds would still be euthanised each year.
The Australian greyhound racing industry body, Greyhounds Australasia, admitted in a leaked internal memo that "this industry is responsible for the unnecessary deaths of anywhere between 13,000 and 17,000 healthy greyhounds a year." Greyhound Racing Victoria has also admitted to the practice. In 2016, 179 trainers were charged with illegal exports to Macau, China, a practice that had benn banned during 2013,  this led to Qantas announcing they would no longer transport ex-racers.
In Australian slang, the term Dapto dog is rhyming slang for wog, a pejorative for a person of Mediterranean background, active in greyhound racing in Dapto in the 1950s as represented on stage by the Griffin Theatre Company with the 2015 production of Dapto Chaser. Dapto is also home to Australia's largest greyhound pup auctions in Australia.
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