I shared my opinion about the most important person in the field, and stated that the safety of the dogs participating in the lure coursing event lies in the hands of lure operator. A good operator can make or break the performance of the dog, for sure.
But how about the equipment?
Before going any further on this road let me remind you all about the line in the FCL Lure Coursing rules. It states very simply and clearly, that
The safety and health of the animals must always guide all officials and participants during racing and lure coursing events.
FCI Regulations for International Sighthound Races and Lure Coursing Events, Vienna, April 2012, p.6, 1.2 Protection of animals
So it is stated in the rules.
However, there is no mention about safety of the gear used for the track.
Now, let me make this clear: every country does its best to follow the rules and guidelines set in there. For sure. And diligently. The interpretation of safety differs quite a lot from country to other, which leads to my amazement.
In Finland we have pulleys which rise about 5-7 cm above ground and have very low profile, as can be seen from the following picture.
Finnish pulley from the side. The top is about 5 cm above ground.
The pulley cannot cause any injuries to the dogs unless something else happens, like dogs fall and tumble over the pulley, hitting it directly.
The pulley is anchored to the ground with spike protruding from the bottom of the pulley. No additional hooks or anchoring required.
Finnish pulley from above. The plate is about 25cm wide, with rounded rim.
At the same time most of the countries around Europe are using higher, 15-20 cm tall industrial pulleys. It is not unusual to hear a dog getting injured or even killed by a contact with these tall pulleys or metal hooks used to anchor them in the ground.
Finland has proposed regulations for pulleys, only because of the requirement mentioned in the rules. The safety of the dogs is the most important thing in this and in any dog sport. But these regulations and guidelines have not been approved by CdL at any stage, even though they acknowledge the injuries and problems the higher, industrial type pulleys pose to the dogs.
There is a solution. Finland has used these pulleys for years and without problems. The returning of the lure is just as fast as with the higher ones, this we have proven in our lure coursing events and even in European Championships 2015.
Proper equipment is an investment to the future of the sport. It may hurt the pocket of the clubs right now, but the pulleys will work for years. And provide safe sport for the enthusiastic dogs.
The safety of the dogs first. Everyone agrees on that, right?