NSW Government bans greyhound racing

Picture: Dieppe DesignNew South Wales became the first Australian state committing to shut down greyhound racing after a Special Commission found overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty.
The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry of New South Wales, led by the Honourable Michael McHugh AC QC, found that the rate of “wastage” of uncompetitive dogs was 50-70 per cent (between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs over a 12 year period). The Inquiry found evidence that 10 to 20 per cent of trainers engaged in the practice of live baiting.
Despite previous efforts to clean up the industry, deaths and injuries went unreported to Greyhound Racing New South Wales. The report found that “many trainers appear to prefer cheap and sometimes painful methods of treating greyhound injuries instead of using the services of qualified veterinary surgeons.”
On the subject of live baiting, the reported concluded that “there is a very real risk that, once the harsh spotlight of this Commission is removed from the industry, the practice of live baiting will thrive once more.” Continue reading NSW Government bans greyhound racing

Vet ethics: A quick whip around the racecourse

Melbourne’s Spring racing has again raised the question of the use of whips as performance aids in thoroughbreds. Jockey Zac Purton was fined $3000 over his “excessive” whipping of Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti. For the same ride, Purton collected $87,500 prize money.

Let’s begin an ethical investigation of this issue by imagining the following scenario. Suppose . . . → Read More: Vet ethics: A quick whip around the racecourse

A student in Sha Tin

Author and Victoria McIver both fifth-year students.

Author and Victoria McIver both fifth-year students.

As a University student, a good deal of my holiday time is spent doing prac work at various clinics around New South Wales. Last summer however I was lucky enough to go somewhere wildly different. Along with one of my uni friends I was able to spend two weeks at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. It would prove to be an experience radically different from other prac work I’ve done, both in the setting and the way in which veterinary medicine was practised.

On our first day at the Hong Kong Jockey club we were given a taste of what daily life is like for the vets working there. Located at Sha Tin in the north of Hong Kong’s mainland, the complex consists of a clinic and then twenty four stables each allocated to a different trainer. Like the rest of Hong Kong, space here is at a premium. Each stable complex holds approximately sixty horses and is three storeys high. Such a massive area can be a little disorienting for new students but after two weeks we began to pick up the lay of the land. Every morning we would be allocated a vet and led around the club to see their morning activities. Each vet has around five or six trainers who they see regularly throughout the week and handle their caseload as well as performing routine duties. We moved through the stables observing endoscopies, injections and dental treatments.

Each stable has a large number of stable hands (‘mafoo’ for the locals) who have each horse caught and ready for the vet upon their arrival, making a task like giving thirty injections take no time at all. We also saw a variety of supplementary treatments that would vary from trainer to trainer. Some used dufalyte infusion; others would infuse their own formulations of dextrose, potassium and other electrolytes. Other trainers would take regular blood samples of in work horses, using a number of analytes as performance indicators. We would also regularly see horses trotted up for both routine and diagnostic lameness exams. Treatment costs in Hong Kong were not a concern for many of the trainers and so in most instances vets were given free reign to follow up and treat cases in any manner they wished. This in conjunction with an excellent records network, which could be accessed by the vets from any computer within the complex, meant that almost all the horses at the club had detailed histories available. Continue reading A student in Sha Tin

Hay List bucks the odds to return to racing

Hay ListIn early April 2012 champion sprinter Hay List, a six-year-old thoroughbred gelding – at the time the highest rated male sprinter in the world and the only horse to ever get close to beating Black Caviar, – underwent surgery for colic at a Sydney equine hospital.

On recovering from he was found to be non weight bearing lame in the near fore leg with swelling about his carpus. Soon after radiographs revealed Hay List had severely fractured his carpus and the owners and trainer were advised he would never race again and that even his survival was at risk. Opinions were obtained from leading equine surgeons around the world with advice ranging from do nothing and hope, to carpal arthrodesis and even euthanasia.

The horse was put into a tube cast and then returned to trainer John McNair’s property at Somersby on the Central Coast of NSW. Here he came under the care of specialist equine surgeon Nicholas Kannegieter and stable vet Brett Jones. On his return he was still Grade 4-5/5 lame, had extensive firm diffuse swelling around the left carpus, pain on even mild flexion and greatly reduced range of motion.

Further radiographs confirmed the severity of the injury revealing a comminuted fracture of the intermediate carpal bone with crushing and fragmentation of the proximal articular surface, multiple avulsion fractures from the caudal aspect of the distal radius and proximal radial, intermediate and ulnar carpal bones, crushing of dorsal articular surface of the radiocarpal and third carpal bones and damage to all major ligaments resulting in joint instability. Continue reading Hay List bucks the odds to return to racing

Camel anaesthesia now safer, easier

Murdoch University veterinarian and specialist anaesthetist Peter Gray has assisted in the development of a safe anaesthetic technique for racing camels in the United Arab Emirates.
Gray worked with an old university friend of his, Alex Tinson, who is the head vet at the Scientific Centre for Racing Camels in the city of Al Ain in the UAE, to develop a method for safely anaesthetising the 550kg animals.

Gray is a senior veterinary registrar at Murdoch University where he teaches and researches the anaesthesia and critical care of large animals. The state of the art camel surgical facility in Al Ain has recently been upgraded, and Gray spent some time working there during 2011 to help develop the anaesthetic protocols for camels as there is almost no scientific research into the desert-dwelling creatures.

Gray explained that anaesthetising camels poses many challenges to veterinarians, “Anaesthetising such a large animal is a huge logistical task and developing the right techniques were incredibly important because these racing camels are very valued creatures in Arab culture”. Continue reading Camel anaesthesia now safer, easier