By ROSS BARNETT (APM) Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner
As we round up what has been a very challenging year for all of us I would like to again pass on my thanks to all greyhound racing participants and club officials who worked together brilliantly with our officials to continue racing throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic period.
The level of cooperation has been commendable and all of you have contributed to a full year of racing that could have very easily gone the other way. I wish you all a happy festive season and we all look forward to next year with the hope that we are not facing too many challenges to overcome in 2021.
We are well and truly into the warmer months and at this time of the year we are all mindful of the high temperatures in which our race meetings are held. The Commission is committed to the welfare of racing animals and works with Racing Queensland and racing clubs to ensure that the health, safety and well-being of racing animals is not compromised while racing in hot weather.
While an animal’s susceptibility to heat stress can be exacerbated by high ambient temperature and humidity levels, several factors contribute to the risk and each animal will handle hot weather differently. Therefore, it is critical that all licensees and official veterinarians monitor the animals in their care for signs of heat stress irrespective of the weather conditions.
It is a licensee’s duty of care is to ensure the health, safety and well-being of racing animal/s in their care and ensuring it is not diminished during conditions of extreme heat.
Responsibility for monitoring the condition and well-being of racing animals in conditions of extreme heat is jointly shared by licensees, race club officials and QRIC staff.
The decision to race in conditions of extreme heat will necessarily require additional effort and resources to ensure the health, safety and well-being of racing animals.
The Commission can withdraw its resources (including race-day Stewards) if the Chairman of Stewards is not satisfied, on the advice of the official veterinarian, that the health, safety and well-being of racing animals can be assured.
When extreme weather conditions are forecast additional facilities, staff and other resources will be allocated to race meetings. We have published the Commission’s preventing and treating heat stress in greyhound’s factsheet (see below) to provide more information about this important animal welfare issue.
On days when the temperature may come into play, the Chairman of Stewards has a role to play to obtain weather forecast conditions prior to the race meeting, liaise with Racing Queensland regarding any need for changes to the race schedule and monitors the Queensland Thermal Comfort Observations throughout the meeting, as provided on the Bureau of Meteorology.
The Chair will also determine whether the arrangements in place for a given race meeting are sufficient to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the racing animals involved.
This decision is made based on the weather conditions forecast, advice from the official veterinarian and the welfare measures available at and agreed with the race club.
We all look forward to working with you all to ensure these welfare measures relating to heat are closely adhered to as a priority during the hotter months.