NSW greyhound muzzling laws are being questioned as some people suggest the regulations are outdated and inhumane.
Wagga lady Tracy O’Brien owns a rescue greyhound and said the animal shows no signs of needing restraint.
“My greyhound, Ruby, is the most patient dog I’ve ever met – in fact one of my friends has said she’d even make a great therapy dog,” she said.
Miss O’Brien said Ruby has suffered enough at the hands of the greyhound racing industry after she was rescued from an Adelaide pound.
“She’d been beaten, had some broken ribs and was hit on the head that hard once that she had a seizure, and that’s from her days as a racing dog,” she said.
“For me, muzzling her reminds her of everything she’s been through.
“While everyone is jumping up and saying greyhound racing is bad, well so is the muzzling and it just sends them back mentally to that time in their life.”
The five-year-old greyhound has been in Miss O’Brien’s care for a year now, and has shown no signs of aggression.
“Before I was made to muzzle her, kids at the park would come up and pat her, and we’ve never had any issues with aggression,” she said.
“When I muzzle her now, she doesn’t want to do anything anymore, she wont eat, whereas before she was down at the park, playing with soccer balls, and playing with a group of friends shes got at the dog park.”
Miss O’Brien said the NSW government are lagging behind other Australian States.
“NSW is saying that they’re a leading state, yet they’re the ones that are falling behind. Victoria has lifted the laws, Canberra has too, so I’m hoping that they’ll jump on board too,” she said.
“They’re following a law that was brought in in 1975.
“You can’t judge a whole group of dogs just based on what they are.”
Miss O’Brien said she just wanted to give her dog a better life that her first few years but the muzzling laws are creating a barrier.
“I’m not taking her down there anymore because I refuse to put her through that trauma of being muzzled and reminding her of everything she had to suffer through in the past,” she said.
Founder of SMART Animal Sanctuary and Rehoming Centre Lorene Cross has agreed that the laws need to change.
“I don’t think they need to be muzzled, especially now with the breed becoming more popular as pets,” Mrs Cross said.
“We’ve only had a couple through our shelter but even seeing the situation from a distance is unsettling, it’s not right, they can be great family dogs and the laws need to change.”
NSW RSPCA are also in support of banning the muzzling of greyhounds specifically, and Vet Science and Policy Officer Jade Norris said the problem lies in breed-specific legislation (BSL).
“There is no evidence to show that greyhounds as a breed pose any greater risk to the public compared to other dog breeds or mix of breeds,” she said.
“The current requirements contribute to negative public misperceptions about greyhound temperaments and their suitability as pets, and many members of the public aren’t aware that compulsory muzzling requirements are in place and therefore many people mistakenly conclude that greyhounds are muzzled due to an aggressive and dangerous temperament.
“In reality, greyhounds generally have friendly and gentle dispositions.”
Ms Norris said the muzzling laws are impacting greyhound rehoming rates.
“Unfortunately this misperception has major ramifications on greyhound rehoming,” she said.
“Greyhounds that do not require a muzzle for safety reasons should be able to travel in public unmuzzled and this would assist in improving the image of the breed as suitable pets and contribute to an increase in rehoming rates.
“It’s a critical issue as current rehoming rates for greyhounds that are discarded by the greyhound racing industry are very low.
The RSPCA noted that any dog can display signs of aggression, regardless of size or breed, and as a result BSL will have no positive effect on society.