Greyhound racing
(Image: Getty)

The NSW government is poised to sign off on an horrific “welfare code of practice” for greyhounds that would allow the racing industry to keep dogs in 3-square-metre cages 24 hours a day — and gives them ten years before they have to provide even that much space.

NSW Nationals MP Kevin Anderson is the minister in charge of greyhound racing in that state (although, good luck finding any reference to that on his various websites). In January he released a long-promised Draft NSW Greyhound Welfare Code of Practice for public consultation. However, the section of the draft code that relates to the conditions in which greyhounds are kept by the racing and gambling industry allows the industry to “delay compliance … for up to ten years from the date that this code comes into effect.”

In case you were thinking that delaying until the 2030s means that future generations of dogs will be well cared for, the only requirement that will kick in after a decade is that dogs must be kept in a minimum area of 1.2 meters by 2.5 meters, with a minimum height of 1.8 metres, which is smaller than some large male greyhounds when they stand on their hind legs.

The equivalent Victorian code, while by no means generous, requires a height that allows “greyhounds to stand on their hind legs with their front paws raised above their heads (a common stance for an excited greyhound)”.

The Victorians also prohibit young dogs and dogs being prepared for retirement from being housed in such small spaces. And unlike the Victorian code, which requires that all dogs spend at least one hour a day outside of their cages if confined to such a small area, the NSW code would allow breeders and trainers to confine racing dogs (unless they are being spelled) to the 3-square-metre area full time.

Remarkably, that is a lower standard than the current Code of Practice for the Keeping of Greyhounds in Training which requires that dogs be allowed to “stretch their limbs … by walking greyhounds on a lead for a minimum of 30 minutes once daily or 15 minutes twice daily.” That existing requirement will be dropped immediately by the new code, with no ten year waiting period.

The small cage requirement allowed by the draft code is one of a number of flaws that have angered opponents of greyhound exploitation and prompted more than a dozen animal welfare organisations to oppose the draft code.

Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds president Dennis Anderson (no relation to the invisible minister) pointed out the equivalent UK code banned the painful practice of artificial inseminating female greyhounds and required that greyhounds be housed in pairs, recognising that dogs are social animals.

And the code doesn’t address the broken Berejiklian government promise of “whole of life tracking”, which would help prevent trainers and abusers from killing dogs they deem surplus to requirements.

As Crikey has previously pointed out, it’s now trivially easy for racing industry participants to “rehome” their greyhounds with a third party who will kill them without any registration being needed. Ironically, Minister Anderson likes to promote dog registration for ordinary pet owners, but doesn’t think the requirement should extend to greyhound trainers who want to get rid of dogs.

It says much about how brutal the greyhound exploitation industry is that, far from welcoming a code that is in some areas softer than existing requirements, they and far-right political supporters have claimed it will “drive the industry out of existence”.

Sadly, not until at least 2030.

Has the NSW government got it wrong on greyhound racing? Let us know your thoughts by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name to be considered for publication in Crikey’s new Your Say section

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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