Greyhound racing

Remember those state government pledges to better protect greyhounds in the wake of 2015 revelations of a brutal, corrupt industry? They’ve been all but abandoned. The industry continues to slaughter large numbers of dogs and revel in millions of dollars in taxpayer handouts.

According to data collected from the racing industry by the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG), 12 dogs have already been killed in races across the country in the first half of January alone. These deaths are a result of the dogs incurring racing injuries — many of them treatable — despite a taxpayer-funded rebate scheme designed to fund injury treatment.

Victoria is the centre of this carnage, with five dogs killed after racing accidents this year already. This is despite the Andrews government purporting to have introduced a code of practice in the industry from January 1, backed by a million dollar handout to the industry.

However, racing minister Martin Pakula is keener to spruik the “$11.5 million in grants to the greyhound racing industry” he has provided since late 2014 to expand the industry, and played down recent sickening revelations of more scandals in Victoria.

The attitude of the Victorian industry to the casual euthanising of injured dogs is reflected in the fact that the industry body, Greyhound Racing Victoria, cheerfully describes dogs that have been killed for incurring injuries as “retired”.

Latinize, a dog killed on January 8 in Ballarat after fracturing her radius, is “retired” according to GRV. Ditto Bakali Jet, killed the same day at the same meeting for suffering a fractured radius.

The death toll is almost as great in Queensland, where four dogs have been killed so far this month.

The Queensland government also likes to talk of its handouts to the greyhound racing industry — it recently boasted of funding a $39 million track that would be the “nation’s most advanced”.

This government has at least accepted the extensive research which shows dog injuries can be significantly reduced by using straighter tracks; however the evidence of how restriction of racing numbers to six reduces injuries has been steadfastly ignored.

In NSW, where a dog was killed on January 3 in Wagga Wagga after breaking its neck, the backdown of the NSW government from Mike Baird’s initial ban on greyhound racing is now almost complete. As part of Baird’s cave-in to the industry, its far-right media supporters and a cynical Labor opposition, Baird promised “whole of life” dog management to track racing dogs and their ownership.

The so-called Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC), which took over greyhound welfare in 2018, in turn promised that “a whole of life-cycle tracking system for greyhounds will also be developed”. In its strategic plan, the commission committed to “introducing whole-of-life monitoring to identify welfare risks across the greyhound life cycle and support compliance”.

But it turns out that the body charged with protecting the welfare of greyhounds in NSW think dogs’ lives end when their trainers dispose of them.

Last October, GWIC added the caveat that “greyhounds that retire and are re-homed with a non-industry participant will not be included on the register. New owners will be responsible for registering these animals on the companion animals register.”

That means that greyhound racing owners can simply sell, or give, their dogs to a third party as a “companion animal” and the poor dog will vanish from even this limited attempt to monitor its welfare.

GWIC has thus opened up a perfect mechanism for dog disposal for the greyhound racing industry, which slaughters thousands of unwanted racing animals a year while making a pro forma attempt to re-home a few hundred.

When the NSW Animal Justice Party’s MLC Mark Pearson asked about how this squared with the government’s commitment to whole of life monitoring, he received a nonsensical non-answer from the government that GWIC is committed to whole-of-life tracking.

The NSW government’s real priorities instead are reflected in its pride that it is now funding the world’s richest dog race.

The CPG says if governments won’t ban racing, they can at least cut the huge death toll from owners eager to kill dogs sustaining treatable injuries. CPG’s Dennis Anderson says:

If they won’t ban greyhound racing, governments must implement transparent whole-of-life tracking, so greyhounds can’t be ‘disappeared’ anymore. They must implement funding for greyhound rescues and sanctuaries, so wastage is not an issue, as well reduce breeding. They must increase penalties for greyhound cruelty and they must make tracks safer.

Based on the first weeks of 2020, it seems like governments couldn’t care less.

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