Despite most of NSW being effectively in lockdown, greyhound racing is forging ahead as scheduled.
To limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safest possible environment, Greyhound Racing NSW announced on March 23 that 70 percent of racing venues across the state will be shut down.
GRNSW CEO Tony Mestrov also made a number of key decisions including limiting participants over the age of 70 or over 60 who suffer from chronic illness; he also discontinued qualifying races for new dogs as of early March.
To stop people from travelling, trainers and handlers now can only race within their own specified zones. This map can be found on the GRNSW website.
On that site, Mestrov is also answering people‘s emailed questions almost daily. When asked about how long people will still be able to race at all, Mestrov said for as the government allows.
“We are trying to do everything we can to show that we can continue racing, and this is why we have put in place the type of racing schedule we have, and why we need everyone to adhere to the zones and the strict biosecurity measures,“ Mestrov wrote.
Australian Greens Senator for NSW Mehreen Faruqi is calling for the closure of all dog and horse racing. “Animal cruelty is not an essential service,” she said in a media release,
“Organised sports, cinemas, restaurants and shops are shutting down but the government is turning a blind eye to these cruel industries,“ she said.
If races are shut down, the dogs’ fates may be in question. While some ex-racers go into breeding programs, once a greyhound‘s racing career comes to an end, many dogs have their lives cut short.
According to Animals Australia, “Perfectly healthy dogs are handed over to university veterinary faculties where they may be experimented on, or killed for use in teaching and training,” when they retire.
To secure the successful retirement of racing greyhounds, GRNSW also gives robust contributions to adoption organisations to help them continue to provide support to a large number of greyhounds.