While greyhound racing was recently outlawed in the ACT, it remains a powerful entertainment and wagering industry elsewhere in Australia. Greyhounds are purpose-bred and trained to win races in a profit-driven industry.
Greyhounds have a natural lifespan of 12-14 years. Racing greyhounds begin their “careers” at around 18 months of age, and finish by the time they are 4.5 years old. It has been estimated that between 6 and 10 greyhounds die on Australian racetracks each week (includes euthanasias and on-track deaths). Many more are destroyed shortly after leaving the track. In fact, industry records and documents reveal that some 13,000 to 17,000 greyhounds are killed annually across the country.
Despite the practice of live bait training being illegal and against the rules of racing, numerous high-profile industry participants across Queensland, NSW and Victoria were found to be using the technique in 2015 through covertly obtained footage. Countless numbers of terrified piglets, possums, rabbits, chickens and kittens have been ripped apart for the sake of teaching these otherwise gentle dogs to race around a track.
The rapid acceleration and extreme speed at which these large dogs chase the lure around a track inevitably results in collisions, falls and injuries. The most frequent injuries are tears to the back muscle of the hind legs, the hip support muscles and the shoulder muscles, ligament ruptures and tarsal (hock) fractures. Racing greyhounds also suffer a number of other fractures and dislocations, as well as skin lacerations, split webbing between the toes, bruising and cramping.
Different types of drugs are administered to greyhounds against the rules of racing for the purpose of enhancing performance or inhibiting performance. In other words, trainers dope their dogs to speed them up or slow them down. Some of the drugs that have been detected in swabs from Australian racing greyhounds include caffeine, steroids, cobalt, erythropoietin (EPO), beta-blockers, barbiturates, ibuprofen, morphine, strychnine, oxazepam, ketamine, ethanol (alcohol), benzoylecgonine (cocaine), amphetamines (speed) and methylamphetamine (ice).