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‘It just makes me feel sick’: Concern over six greyhound deaths, 400 injuries recorded at Ipswich racing track

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Last month four-year-old greyhound Catch Them Cutie competed in her last race – but she never made it across finish line.

Warning: This story contains descriptions of animal injuries which some readers may find disturbing.

Footage from the April 17 sprint at the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club, west of Brisbane, shows the black-and-white dog tumble as she approached the first corner of the track.

A steward’s report stated: “A post-race veterinary examination revealed the greyhound to have sustained a catastrophic injury to its near side foreleg and was humanely euthanised”.

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Her death marks the sixth at the track this racing season, which began last July, surpassing last season’s entire death toll.

Racing Queensland said there had been 411 injuries from 13,160 starters to May 9.

Greyhound racing opponents fear there will be more deaths at the track, as more races from around south-east Queensland are moved to Ipswich after flooding closed Brisbane’s Albion Park Raceway.

The greyhound is on the mend now.(Supplied: Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds)

Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds president Annie Hendley said the injuries ranged from broken necks and spines, to snapped legs.

“It just makes me feel sick. It’s very upsetting,” she said.

“Every time these dogs are put into a race, there’s always a chance that they are going to be the one that has the catastrophic injury; that they will not finish that race alive.”

Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Shane Gillard said the recent injuries and deaths were being investigated.

“We are working with Racing Queensland to determine if there are any contributing factors [outside an increase in race meetings] and if so, what actions should be taken,” he said.

A Racing Queensland spokesperson said injury rates have only increased “from 2.88 per cent [last season] to 3.12 per cent”.

Annie Hendley with her arms around two greyhounds.
Greyhound racing opponent Annie Hendley says the greyhound racing industry could do more to ensure the wellbeing of the animals.(Supplied)

But Ms Hendley said the racing industry cared more about “bets than pets”.

“Any other breed of dog wouldn’t be treated like this,” she said.

“Can you imagine any other breed of dog? Let’s race these poodles. Oh, that poodle’s going to be carried off and killed now, that poodle’s fractured his leg.

“And yet why is it acceptable for greyhounds?”

New greyhound tracks planned

The state government in 2019 announced $40 million would be spent on a new greyhound racing facility comprising three tracks at Purga in Ipswich.

Construction of the track is expected to start this year but community consultation is still underway, the state government said.

A petition against the new track has garnered more than 72,500 signatures.

Graphic of aerial view o Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre proposed for Purga with two tracks to either side
The almost $40 million Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre is proposed for Purga.(Supplied: Racing Queensland)

A study by the University of Technology Sydney engineers found straight tracks were safer for the animals, but the building proposal for the new Ipswich track, only has one of three tracks straight.

“Clearly using a straight track would eliminate all injuries that are directly associated with bends,” the report for Greyhound Racing NSW chief veterinary officer Liz Arnott said.

“Bends are problematic for a number of reasons … It is strongly recommended that GRNSW and the Australian Greyhound Industry reconsider their aversion to straight tracks and consider developing purpose-built straight tracks.”

Racing Queensland said it had brought in some of world’s leading experts in track design.

“Among the amenities to be established include … modern cambers, a world-class racing surface, along with track radius and surface banking to be designed in a way to reduce excessive limb forces,” the spokesperson said.

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