Straight track plan for dogs is 'welfare on steroids'
A PLAN to make straight greyhound tracks is either animal welfare on steroids or a chance to expand the industry, say greyhound racing fans on the last day of the July Carnival at Grafton.
Greyhound Racing NSW and the Australian Greyhound Industry are considering the findings of a University of Technology study commissioned last year after then-NSW premier Mike Baird banned the sport.
The report, published on Thursday, made 11 recommendations, including creating straight tracks, a trial reduction in the number of dogs from eight to six in each race, and extending lures across tracks to avoid dogs bunching on corners - a major source of injuries.
Grafton Greyhound Club secretary Brad Ellis said the industry should embrace straight racing as it offered more opportunities for dogs that preferred racing on those tracks.
"In our region we have three different types - a one-turn track here, a circle track in Casino and Lismore is a combination of the two," Mr Ellis said.
He said the proposal for straight tracks was a chance for the government to follow through on its welfare line.
"If they're prepared to spend big money to shut the industry down, they should be prepared to spend money to allow it to run safely," MrEllis said.
"If they're really concerned about the welfare line and it's not just talk, I would like to see them come up with a plan for a greyhound racing complex that takes in all four different kinds of tracks."
Casino trainer Gavin Lowe was at the Grafton track with one of his dogs for the final day of the Grafton July Greyhound Carnival yesterday.
While acknowledging the need for straight track racing, he said the reasoning behind the latest proposal was "welfare on steroids".
He said straight track racing had a number of drawbacks.
"Think of the spectators," he said.
"Wherever they sit, they will just see the dogs flash past them. They won't be able to watch an entire race.
"Who's going to come to watch that?"
Mr Lowe said the big money in greyhound racing was held over 500m and 600m, while straight tracks were just 360m.
"But it's just a proposal now, so I don't think we need get too excited," he said.