Greyhound welfare advocates are again calling for racing to be shut down in Wagga Wagga after another animal suffered a life-ending injury on the showground racetrack.
Friday night’s death of two-year-old Bianca’s Son is the second fatal incident at the Wagga track in 2023, with another 136 dogs suffering injuries.
“It’s time for the Wagga track to be closed down,” said Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG) NSW director, Kylie Field.
“The community was assured that the track had been made safe, yet here we are again.”
According to the stewards’ report from Race 9, two-year-old Bianca’s Son “Tightened for racing room in the run to the 1st turn and collided into the running rail and fell.
“A post-race veterinary examination was carried out revealing a fractured skull.
“The greyhound was humanely euthanised by the OTV (On Track Vet).”
It follows the death in May of Joyous Treasure, who suffered a fractured neck after also hitting the rail and falling at the first turn.
In response to the first incident, Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr delivered a notice of motion to the NSW Parliament calling for improved safety and it was confirmed that the Wagga track would receive a major upgrade.
“I support the greyhound racing industry, it is valued by the community and provides over 10,000 jobs across the state,” he said.
“However, the welfare of dogs must come first.”
Also in July, Greyhound Racing NSW CEO Robert Macaulay said his organisation had been “working closely” with the Wagga Greyhound Racing Club and the Show Society “to make a major investment in track safety upgrades at the Wagga Wagga track”.
He hinted that they “would create a Centre of Excellence for all of southern NSW at Wagga Wagga”.
In August, it was confirmed that consultation was underway for a “new racing and multi-functional facility” in the Riverina.
“The Riverina is a core region for our sport, with 577 roles occupied across breeders, owners, trainers, racing club and industry staff, volunteers and other deeply valued participants,” Mr Macaulay said.
“These are the locals in a community who invest in the towns across the Riverina, not to mention pay taxes and contribute to the state’s coffers – both directly and indirectly – to the tune of $14 million per annum.
“The flow-on effects from the region’s greyhound industry touch a lot of other businesses in the community as well as providing livelihoods for many hard-working people.”
In addition to the immediate installation of an additional safety rail, plans included the building of a new, larger “two-turn circle track” and the state’s second straight track, an initiative that eliminates the majority of injuries by taking away the problematic turns.
Dr McGirr welcomed the investment.
“I am very pleased to see immediate upgrades being installed at the Wagga Greyhound track but especially the recent account funding for a straight track. The primary concern for racing should be the safety and welfare of the greyhounds and I welcome these upgrades,” he said.
“I look forward to Wagga Wagga being a centre for greyhound excellence and safety.”
Contacted this week for an update, Mr Macaulay told Region that “plans for Wagga are making their way through an approval process” and that they would “make track upgrade announcements in early February”.
Advocates argue that it is too little, too late, noting that 42 dogs have died racing on NSW tracks in 2023, with more than 4000 injuries.
“If the industry was to be believed, injuries should be declining, but this year serious injuries in NSW have increased 36 per cent over the whole of 2022,” said Ms Field.
She also took aim at Dr McGirr’s attempt to walk a middle line and suggested that the government was bowing to pressure from gambling interests.
“Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr has to realise he can’t blindly accept the false assurances from the racing industry or believe their ongoing misinformation,” she said.
“Racing Minister David Harris has to stand up to the gambling business. The bloody truth is staring him in the face – greyhound racing kills.
“By supporting this industry, he endorses the suffering of dogs and promotes the community’s gambling problems of addiction and suicide.”
According to GRNSW’s latest annual report, “wagering turnover on NSW greyhound racing events increased to a record $3.1 billion in FY21-22”.
Original Article published by Chris Roe on Region Riverina.