A wise choice for greyhound racing reform

Nathan Absalom Roar Guru

By Nathan Absalom, Nathan Absalom is a Roar Guru


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    Where to next for greyhound racing in NSW? (Rainer Hungershausen / Flickr)

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    Some people have earned the right to be listened to, while others deserve to be ignored.

    It would be simplistic, and almost certainly wrong, to describe the recent announcements of the board members of both the commercial and integrity boards of greyhound racing in NSW as heralding a new era for the sport.

    The reality is that in the last few years, greyhound racing has changed enormously both in NSW and throughout Australia.

    Reduction in breeding numbers, investment in rehoming programs, changes to the lure and tracks to make racing safer, these boxes have all been ticked.

    In a background where some of the most powerful people in NSW swore black and blue they couldn’t happen, all these changes were made with no board and no leadership to drive what has been an obvious cultural change within the sport. Instead, it happened mainly through the actions of many individuals within the sport.

    And so rather than dictating that the sport must change, the two new boards, one commercial and one of integrity and welfare, have the responsibility of maintaining and expanding this cultural change.

    They will need to do this while working through the challenges the sport will have in a very different betting environment where online bookies are king, and there will be a dramatic reduction in the number of greyhounds able to race.

    Nevertheless, credit where credit is due, the Government has made some wise choices for the board. There are some decent values represented by the people on these boards.


    For the purpose of this piece, I’ll focus on one appointment, Dr John Keniry, who has been appointed as one of the Commissioners of the Greyhound and Welfare Integrity Committee with little fanfare or media attention.

    Quite different to the media circus when Dr Keniry was appointed the head of the Greyhound Racing transition taskforce last July when then-Premier Mike Baird intended to ban the sport. He was given the entirely thankless task of going around to communities and explaining the details, or lack thereof, of the Government’s policies.

    He also had to count the greyhounds, facilities and equipment for the purposes of compensation. We found out later that through this process, he tried to resign as he simply no longer agreed that this policy was the right thing, only to be talked out of it as the Government changed their minds.

    For me, when someone takes such an action, to resign from a lucrative position on a matter of principle at their own personal cost, it demonstrates that this is someone who should be listened to. Someone who has earned the right to be in a position of authority, such as the position of Commissioner is.

    And for me the message is unmistakeable: the Government has refused to appoint a third-rate staffer with no discernible talent. Instead they have appointed someone with a reputation for honesty and integrity who has surely earned the right to be respected by people within greyhound racing, the right to be listened to.

    There will be challenges in the future ahead, of that I am sure. But I suspect that this respect will ensure the pronouncements that animal welfare and integrity will be at the heart of greyhound racing for the foreseeable future are not just hollow marketing spin, but embed the cultural change for decades to come.

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • September 21st 2017 @ 8:23am
      AC said | September 21st 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      All of which is entirely meaningless unless we are addressing specifically, the numbers injured and killed. I don’t see any figures here? So yet again we are continuing with the idea that things have changed, without seeing evidence that the killing and suffering has stopped. If a serial murderer kills less people than usual, does that make their deeds good?

      If there are still greyhounds being killed and injured for the entertainment industry, then we still have a problem.

      • September 21st 2017 @ 11:51am
        DH said | September 21st 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        The same could be argued of any industry involving animals. Zoos, Reef tours, meat, leather, pets. Animals are sacrificed for many reasons and industries.

        I’ve never been sure why greyhound (or horse) racing is singled out more than any other industry involving humans controlling animals.

        • September 21st 2017 @ 5:57pm
          AC said | September 21st 2017 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

          Zoos: Many zoos present the counter-argument that they offer conservation solutions. Argue with them if you disagree.
          Reef tours: Animals are free in their own environment, and so long as the visitors are not taking the p*ss via overuse/pollution etc, I can’t see a problem that remotely rivals the ethics problems in dog racing. However neither are essential.
          Meat: Most people regard meat as essential. Some do not and live this way. If you genuinely know it’s not essential, and consume it anyway, then you are probably just as bad as greyhound killers, for inducing unnecessary cruelty. That would be very few people.
          Leather: Non-essential. Essential at one point of time but the world is now able to move on.
          Pets: Pets are loved and cherished. They are not short term gambling industry investments. Many pets are rescued from undesirable situations.

          The excuses you gave all have far more merit than dog racing, or have a solution such as boycotting meat and leather.

          Gambling is a frivolous, non-essential, pointless activity that does nothing for society in general. If banned that money would be redistributed elsewhere in likely more ethical ways.

          • September 21st 2017 @ 8:46pm
            Nick said | September 21st 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

            You can boycott greyhound racing if you don’t like it, just like people boycott meat, leather etc. It’s the same.

            To be honest just because you think something doesn’t mean your right or wrong. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

            And not all pets are loved, take a look at the RSPCA they are full of these some called loved pets and those puppy farms. More “loved” pets are put down then greyhounds. If you are against one well…..

            • September 21st 2017 @ 9:01pm
              AC said | September 21st 2017 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

              Indeed and it’s fair go to compare greyhound racing to the plight of abandoned abused and neglected pets. Entirely valid comparison.

              However while one situation comes down to sheer irresponsible behaviour the other comes down to a structured business intent that intended to act irresponsibly from the moment it decided to engage with greyhounds and greyhound racing.

              So do we slam occasional and random neglect and abuse and ignore it when it’s industry practice?

              You can of course ignore all of these things, and even support such things that needlessly bring harm to innocent victims, but there will always be people standing up for greyhounds used abused miss-trained live baited overbred and drugged for the entertainment industry.

              • September 21st 2017 @ 11:08pm
                Nick said | September 21st 2017 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

                2 years ago you said you would have NZ shut down in 5 years. 3 years to go. The clock is ticking. Maybe ask Baird, Grant and the NSW liberals and yeah the NSW Nationals how that worked out for them they might be able to help you

                Interesting point you made about greyhound racing and neglected pets. You actually backed up my point that if you are anti greyhounds you also need to be anti pets. Walk down the street and watch all these people who allow there dogs to run free right next to the road. Dog hit by car, dog falls in a race. Both can be dangerous to a dog. Even if no money or gambling involved people still put dogs at risk and you seem ok with this. Each to their own.

              • September 22nd 2017 @ 6:27am
                AC said | September 22nd 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

                @Nick sorry if I was confusing. I thought you were meaning neglect abuse and general mistreatment of pets- not loving pet ownership.

                Pets in loving family homes is in no way a bad thing.

              • September 22nd 2017 @ 6:52am
                Nick said | September 22nd 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

                You want to ban greyhound racing because you feel dogs are in danger , treated badly, correct? You need to take the same stance on pets. There is no difference between a love backyard pet and a racing greyhound that races and is rehomed. Greyhounds racing on the track has no more dangers than a dog off the leash running near a road. Its ban both or none, hate both or none.

                If you want to debate about all the dogs put down, than go do to a dog pound and see all the dogs breed for the pet industry on death row

                Debate about mistreatment? Have a look at all the cases of animal cruelty the RSPCA is investigating. A lot more “pet industry” dogs are mistreated. Also strange that greyhound industry dogs need to be transported in air con trailers, pet industry dogs don’t. In fact once a greyhound finishes its career and somebody adopts, that greyhound doesn’t need to travel in an air con trailer.

                Greyhound industry vs pet industry. Both have issues, both have loved animals, but you turn a blind eye to one and demand the other is ban. That doesn’t make sense.

                What about whippet racing? Don’t see you trying to ban that. Do those dogs not have the same issue with race track danger? By the way they sit in non air con trailers.

              • September 22nd 2017 @ 6:59am
                AC said | September 22nd 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report

                No, I don’t need to take the same stance on pets.

                pets are looked after, generally, whereas greyhounds are used

              • September 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am
                Nick said | September 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

                You don’t, but it shows people here that your stance isn’t about greyhounds, it’s gambling as you didn’t answer the whippet question. It’s like a whippet club here that has anti greyhound people involved, that claim racing a dog is bad, tracks are unsafe etc… yet race a whippet on these “unsafe tracks”?????

                Did you fight the Victoria government as to why racing greyhounds need air con trailers, but non racing don’t? Did you ask why racing greyhounds need to have a minimum exercise period per day, but non racing greyhounds don’t, what about racing greyhounds diets must be signed off by a vet, but non racing greyhounds don’t? why aren’t all greyhounds treated equal?

                Ban the industry and the only greyhound you will see will be in a museum. But you love your greyhounds more than greyhound participants, yet you don’t feel non racing greyhounds need the same conditions as above.

              • September 22nd 2017 @ 8:47am
                AC said | September 22nd 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

                Um no I don’t race whippets. And if the statistical injuries are as bad as greyhound racing, no I wouldn’t support it. If whippet racing required the culling that greyhound racing does- no way. I’m not worried about gambling at all. It’s another useful stick to beat greyhound racing with when it suits but no I don’t really care about gambling- unless it’s on animals that leads to over-exploitation.

                The reason why the industry needs rules and non-industry doesn’t is a reflection on the ineptness of participants. nothing else. And because of overbreeding, the industry has no choice but to cull participants, one rule at a time. Same destination, different route.

                if the industry is banned, wont all you so-called greyhound lovers keep the breed going?

                I have to admit, it was so sad to see all those great danes and sausage dogs go extinct because deadbeats couldn’t exploit them for money. Oh wait..

              • September 22nd 2017 @ 9:22am
                Nick said | September 22nd 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                As I thought, you only care if it is a racing greyhound, otherwise you don’t care what people feed, exercise.

                As for the dog breeds you bought up, well they have always been breed for pets. Plus you claim to love the greyhound so much, will you breed a litter? Nah didn’t think so. Oh you love them so much……..

      • September 21st 2017 @ 12:06pm
        rba said | September 21st 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        We better Ban the motor vehicle then AC and save Human Lives ,even Cars race for Entertainment with Fatal events and let’s flick Boxing while we are at it ,throw in Cricket as well

        • September 21st 2017 @ 3:17pm
          AC said | September 21st 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          Much motor vehicle use would be regarded as essential. No-one regards gambling as essential.
          Those other pursuits have informed, willing human participants. The dogs have no idea how bleak their situation is in dog racing.

          • September 21st 2017 @ 4:45pm
            DH said | September 21st 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

            Maybe we put them back into the wild so they can fight each other and hunt for their dinner?

            Maybe we stop wild dogs starving and allow them to eat our chickents, poodles and cats.

            I think some animal activists forget where cats and dogs get their food in the wild, they don’t farm lentils.

          • September 21st 2017 @ 5:49pm
            no one in particular said | September 21st 2017 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

            someone has never been on an abattoir floor

            • September 22nd 2017 @ 8:48am
              AC said | September 22nd 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

              The mainstream regard eating meat as essential. No-one regards racing dogs for entertainment as essential.

          • September 21st 2017 @ 8:30pm
            Nick said | September 21st 2017 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

            Not correct, for a long time people got from point a to point b without a car.

          • September 23rd 2017 @ 10:15am
            StrummerJones said | September 23rd 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

            I’ll play devils advocate, but you should consider these articles AC

            250,000 pets die a year in Australia

            Here is another interesting read from The Guardian regarding mistreat, especially the comment “Every day, millions of dogs are left alone while their owners go out to work: most of them hate being left alone”


    • Roar Guru

      September 21st 2017 @ 9:16pm
      kv joef said | September 21st 2017 @ 9:16pm | ! Report

      I’m not a greyhound racing person, But like Glenn Innes, i’ve got to read Nathan’s almost single handed ‘logical’ crusade to protect something that is a lot more than dogs running in a circle. they (the dogs) love it and i love that they (the greyhounds) are willing to battle.

      Always my favourite time after a greyhound race is the pen – like watching a bunch of kids jumping about saying ‘that was great — let’s do it again”. I haven’t backed a greyhound in 40 odd years but i do love dogs and i do occasionally watch greyhound racing just to see the contest that they strive for … and the fun in the pen.

      i’m a horse person and if you ask me to choose – never to horse-bet again or witness Winx’s racing career – no contest – Winx every time.

      Nathan is a greyhound person. He has posted here for 2 or more years and he talked about turnover, gambling etc in relation to viability but the main thrust … has always been – ‘this is unfair to the people who love this sport and the animals who create it’ – i’m not a greyhound person but i know who Zoom Top was and i went to see him race twice.

      Before people regale the ‘bloodsport’ why not go down to the ‘pound’ have a look around and go back in a month and ask them how many they have killed.

      i have a personal story about the quality of the greyhound animal but that would seem way too soppy — i had an old greyhound ‘nanny’ when i was a toddler.

      • Roar Guru

        September 21st 2017 @ 10:24pm
        kv joef said | September 21st 2017 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

        did i say ‘him’ … sacrilegious … correction ‘her’

      • Roar Guru

        September 23rd 2017 @ 9:16am
        Nathan Absalom said | September 23rd 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Thanks for the kind words. Dad still swears black and blue that his stayer, Calm Whisky, should have beaten Zoom Top at Harold Park when she ran third to her one night. Never met anyone else that agreed, mind you, but it shows that when there is that “one in a generation” horse or greyhound, although Zoom Top and Winx are even more than that, people really get a kick out of racing them and trying to beat them.

        I actually prefer trialing the greyhounds more than betting on them. Letting them show what they can do on the clock, see if they’re balanced as they accelerate and how they’re taking the turn.

        Can I pinch your sentence “this is unfair to the people who love this sport” for the next article? Perfectly articulates what I’m going to say.

        • Roar Guru

          September 25th 2017 @ 7:16am
          kv joef said | September 25th 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

          i think it was your sentence all along :-).

          i did notice a lot of positive press for the various greyhound adoption schemes on the weekend. they look to have been a success … so they should.

          my uncle trained greyhounds on his property the other side of minmi (all houses now) — the ‘nanny’ greyhound was a much-loved average ex-racer and apparently took it on herself to ‘mind me’ when i was in the backyard. my mother told me much later if i disappeared from sight, all she had to do was look for the dog and there i was. the dog also used to head me off if i decided to get into the vegie patch for some gardening … block my path and start licking me to death – good logic from the dog … she probably thought – ‘don’t go in there, everytime i go in there, i get yelled at’ .

    • September 22nd 2017 @ 5:03pm
      Matt said | September 22nd 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

      A minority of dogs are re- homed by industry. The majority are re-homed by private greyhound adoption programs, who receive no industry funding. So don’t give the Industry and it’s participants credit for this.

      • September 23rd 2017 @ 7:24am
        Nick said | September 23rd 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

        Wrong Matt, the industry does provide funding to rehomers.

    • September 23rd 2017 @ 10:39am
      Harry Kellerman said | September 23rd 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report


      I’m still not entirely convinced that GRNSW are coming down hard enough on the bad apples in the industry.

      There’s simply too many scumbags that just aren’t getting the message that the industry has to change. Penalties for doping and mistreatment still appear to be too light and should reflect a zero tolerance policy.

      After all that has happened over the past 2 years, 14 weeks and $1000 for admitting to doping appears light.

      They should also ban anyone that has a ciminal record, has a criminal record in the future, or is suspected of mixing with people with serious criminal records.

      Finally, they should at least grant the right for punters to sue trainers for losses if they can prove they (the punter) bet on a race that involved a doped up dog.

      Without this, the cowboys will still operate, and even if they represent 1% (unlikely) of the industry, you can guess what story the media will publish between the next Miata or the mistreatment of a greyhound.

      For the record, I am glad the 4 Corners thing happened because it gave the industry a kick up the backside regarding greyhound welfare overall.

      Now that’s out of my system, have you got any tips for tonight?

      • Roar Guru

        September 23rd 2017 @ 12:38pm
        Nathan Absalom said | September 23rd 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

        All fair points but I really think the new integrity board should be given a chance, they may not have even met! The last lot were just a temporary stopgap and have acted like it.

        As for tips, haven’t looked much at wenty park but our little Celestial Folk is flying at the moment. Have a little each way on her and a quinella with Fanta Bale who should win with even luck.