18,000 greyhounds killed each year is unacceptable. Ban greyhound racing. Ban greyhound exports.
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Greyhounds are remarkable animals. Contrary to what most people think, they're docile, even tempered, quiet, friendly, and affectionate dogs whose nature makes them an ideal addition to any family.
Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane. 18,000 greyhounds are killed every year and thousands more are injured - the Australian greyhound racing industry is clearly operating outside the boundaries of community standards, lacking transparency and accountability. It treats greyhounds like disposable objects, placing profits well above the welfare of the dogs (GRNSW’s vision to “drive increased prizemoney returns to participants” underlines this).
In the USA greyhound racing is now illegal in 39 states. Just 7 states still allow racing, with moves underway to ban it in these remaining states.
Australia remains one of only 8 countries that allow (commercial) greyhound racing. Tens of thousands of concerned individuals have already spoken out about the cruel treatment of greyhounds by the Australian greyhound racing industry including dog lovers, animal lovers, and anyone with a conscience (both inside and outside of the greyhound industry).
So why is it that our lawmakers have failed to act on these concerns?
Evidence in support of the banning of greyhound racing and exports is compelling:
Australia's greyhound racing industry is ranked third largest in the world. $3 billion is wagered on greyhound racing in Australia. Almost 293,000 starters competed in 38,380 races at 3,659 meetings.
Greyhounds Australasia (GA) is comprised of representatives from the 8 state/territory racing bodies, but any recommendations it makes are non-binding. Astonishingly, GA has not made public any industry statistics beyond 2011.
Over 17,000 greyhounds are born in Australia each year. GA states that in 2011 there were 2,887 registered litters and 11,800 dogs named. This creates a large discrepancy between puppies born and dogs named on the register. What happened to the dogs not named?
18,000 puppies and young greyhounds are killed in Australia each year. Those who fail to chase, are not fast enough, are not profitable enough, or are “injured” while racing are killed. Not all trainers/breeders mistreat/kill their greyhounds, but the industry as a whole is inhumane. Some of the methods used to destroy these beautiful animals are cruel – sadly the cheapest way is perceived to be the “best” way for this inhumane gambling industry.
A recent NSW government inquiry paints a picture of an industry that’s out of control and doesn’t exactly know what it’s doing. This statement is in relation to the welfare of 2,400 missing greyhounds - the fate of these ‘excess dogs,’ sometimes referred to as ‘wastage’ in the industry, is not clearly identified. However most are likely to be euthanised. Many people would be offended at the suggestion that these greyhounds are ‘excess dogs.’ It clearly articulates the industry’s view of these beautiful animals as little more than a worthless commodity.
Greyhounds that go on to race will have short careers. They’ll finish racing between the ages of 2 and 4, equating to several thousand dogs all around Australia. Given the limitation(s) of each state/territory’s adoption program, what’s the strategy to avoid euthanasing these healthy dogs? For every $273 gambled, just 1 cents is spent on the welfare of these animals.
The average life span of a greyhound is 12-14 years, but only a small percentage will live to this age.
A racing track is designed only for entertainment. A greyhound can sprint at up to 70 km/h around these track so injuries (or death) are commonplace: lacerations, impact trauma to the head, ligament tears, cardiac arrest, broken neck, broken bones, and spinal cord paralysis.
Only around 800 greyhounds a year are adopted through the various official state/territory adoption programs. 500 adoptions were exceeded for the first time in Victoria last year, their 10-year average being 260. Trainers/breeders are required to pay a nominal fee to admit a greyhound into one of these programs, with limits on available places meaning that there can be a long wait. The financial cost of keeping the dog (alive) in the meantime can pressure some trainers/breeders into seeking alternative (cruel) solutions.
The greyhound racing industry bears little transparency and accountability for the countless thousands of dogs that “disappear” each year; no one knows exactly what happens to them. This is despite all greyhound puppies being recorded and ear tattooed at birth. Mandatory micro-chipping was introduced in 2011 to facilitate accurate tracking of dogs, however there are no available statistics to highlight the effectiveness/success of this.
Around 1,000 greyhounds a year are exported from Australia to countries including South Korea, China, Macau, and Vietnam. South Korea and Vietnam are known for their illegal trade in dog meat (aka “fragrant meat”) for human consumption. Deeply concerning, Australia exports greyhounds for racing at Macau’s infamous Yat Yuen Canidrome track. Dogs failing to finish in the top-3 for 5 consecutive races at this track are euthanased. Greyhounds Australasia has withdrawn its support for the export of greyhounds to Macau, however this is not a binding decision on the 8 state/territory racing bodies. On its website, GA acknowledges that it’s “committed to improving the welfare of greyhounds and reducing the incidence of euthanasia.” If this was the case, GA would recommend that all 8 state/territory bodies make this binding.
For up to 23 hours a day, racing greyhounds are kept confined to small cages or runs barely large enough for them to stand up and turn around in.
A large number of greyhounds see out their days in the confinement of laboratories and universities. Some are subjected to (what any reasonable person would deem as cruel) experiments and procedures. These dogs have little (if no) opportunity for exercise or meaningful interaction.
Some greyhounds are trained using live animals (baiting) such as rabbits and possums. Even though this practice is illegal, there is anecdotal evidence to show that it still occurs.
Many greyhounds are used as an ingredient in blood and bone.
There have been many cases of greyhounds found starving and in less than adequate kennel housing.
Recent ABC 7.30 Report and Landline investigations highlighted numerous animal welfare concerns including the use of cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine, and EPO to make dogs run faster. There have been 70 recorded cases in the past year involving banned substances. GRNSW writes off illicit substance detection “a large majority of urine samples found to contain traces of Procaine in the last five years were due to trainers inadvertently feeding their greyhounds contaminated meat.” Procaine has similar effects to cocaine, and can be used alone as an anaesthetic, or combined with penicillin to increase the effectiveness of penicillin. It’s been proven to enhance performance of human athletes (Prokop 1973) so can have the same effects on the performance of a greyhound. To assist in making the industry cleaner, a greyhound should not be allowed to compete if any procaine is detected. What measures are in place to investigate how the procaine was administered? If found to have been ingested through contaminated meat, how can this be confirmed (traced and validated)?
In NSW there has been widespread evidence supporting the overhaul of the industry. Community concerns led to the establishment of a government inquiry in the first place. Although this was a step in the right direction, it’s concerning to see that many claims around animal mistreatment and misconduct (as expressed by a number of highly respected figures including Dr John Kaye and Dr Mehreen Faruqi) were omitted from the Summary of Findings and Recommendations.
GRNSW refers to itself on its Facebook page as a “non-profit organisation charged by the Greyhound Racing Act 2002.” The Greyhound Racing Act 2002 was repealed by the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 No 19.
GRNSW openly admits that greyhound racing “is unviable in the short to medium term and unsustainable in the long term” (Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in NSW, submission 380 section 4.2). The government inquiry also predicts a bleak economic future for greyhound racing in NSW. A quick review of GRNSW’s annual reports reveal that over the last few years the industry has lost a significant amount of money – losses of $2.1 million in 2013, $2.11 million in 2011, $1.23 million in 2010, $0.92 million in 2008, $1.63 million in 2007, and $2.58 million in 2006. In 2012 a profit of $5.6 million was recorded only after the (surprising) inclusion of $6.9 million in deferred income. Profits of $0.89 million in 2009 and $0.29 million in 2005 are negligible. It seems appropriate that GRNSW referred to itself as a “non-profit organisation” because losses going back to 2005 amount to $10.57 million. We shouldn’t let these heavy financial losses overshadow the real issue (the inhumane treatment of so many innocent greyhounds), but is GRNSW insolvent?
Recently the Leader of the Opposition in Victoria, the Honourable Mr David Andrews, publicly claimed that Labor will crack down on puppy factories. The greyhound racing industry is essentially a puppy fam. Greyhounds are bred excessively and disposed of (like rubbish) when they become surplus to requirements. Breeding and welfare controls announced in February of this year are a step in the right direction, but still insufficient.
GRNSW recently asked for $154 million in government funding because it “subsidised the gallops and trots to this amount over the past 16 years.” However legislation states that it “cannot render the State liable for any debts, liabilities or other obligations of GRNSW or its subsidiaries unless this or any other Act provides otherwise.” Regardless, many people would strongly disapprove of taxpayer funds being used to try and sustain an inhumane industry that itself has declared is unsustainable.
Greyhound racing in Australia is in crisis. Greyhound racing and greyhound exports need to be banned. From an animal welfare perspective, this will be a major triumph. From an economic perspective, this will also be a major triumph. It’ll save states tens of millions of dollars in government bailouts. There are very valid reasons as to why the industry is failing and will continue to fail. Closing tracks and selling off the land for housing development (including much-needed public housing) will add tens of millions of dollars to the financial reserves of each state/territory, and the construction of community hubs or schools will benefit all of us.
In 2012, Greyhound Racing NSW boss Brent Hogan acknowledged that "community attitudes have moved on from where they were 10 and 20 years ago and as a sport we need to reflect those community attitudes."
Spot on! The evidence for government action (and intervention) is compelling.
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